Relearning habits to be more sustainable, or attempt zero waste, can often be overwhelming! However when we realize the consequences of our actions it can become clear that something has to be done. I believe the most eye opening aspect of changing to this lifestyle is understanding the life cycle of items, and the impact of our purchases. Sometimes it seems easier to purchase a ton of cheap stuff, but it's ultimately harder on our wallets and the planet. Most of the items we buy end up in landfills, not breaking down, and emitting toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. The more I learn about sustainability the more realize that, though it requires work, the pay off is big. Things that are too convenient end up being disastrous in the long run.
In an old post I praised Goodwill, and it is still a company that I stand by, however it shouldn't be a scapegoat for buying a ton of crap. The company does the best they can but they only have so many stores and so much space to put items in. This means that when there's no more room left, our donations end up being given to charity which is pretty much a nice way of saying giant piles of clothes in third world countries. If you haven't watched the movie The True Cost I highly recommend it because it is loaded with a wealth of incredible information on this topic!
The first step in combatting this is to make more thoughtful purchases. Is it needed? Is it actually going to enhance or hinder life and joy? I've mentioned this before but Bea Johnson's book Zero Waste Home does a wonderful job of thinking through these questions. The second step is getting rid of things that are unnecessary. This is where a book like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up could come in handy (which I can't wait to read). However the concept of simplifying life needs to be coupled with conscious discarding. In other words it's important that we don't just throw things away, the point is to avoid (or at least prolong) adding to landfills. Organizations like Savers has a commitment to the community but also to the planet and will sell your clothing in their thrift stores or repurpose it to make insulation if the items are damaged. If we do our research we can give these items new life instead of letting them lead our planet towards death. (Harsh, I know.) Let's be thoughtful, informed customers!