Have you even heard of the terms “Keeping up with the Joneses” or “lifestyle bloat”? Who are the Joneses in the first place? Why are we concerned about them?
“Keeping up with the Joneses” is an idiom from the past that alludes to comparing oneself to others to ascertain one’s social position. How does this expression affect us now? It pressures us to try to appear as successful, affluent, and remarkable as the people around us. This pressure causes us to do things we don’t necessarily want, and splurge more than we should.
What is Lifestyle Bloat?
This mentality sometimes leads to lifestyle bloat, which refers to the steady rise in expenses and what you ultimately spend resulting from income growth. You’ve received a raise; thus, why not treat yourself to a pair of boots? Or, you may get that luxury car you’ve always wanted! This is lifestyle bloat and the kind of thinking that can get you in trouble. Before you know it, you’re paying for tools you’re not using, a coat you’re not wearing, and a large home.
All of these aspects and factors have a detrimental impact on the environment, so do your best to resist these habits or change them where you recognize lifestyle bloat may have already occurred.
When you want to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and avoid lifestyle bloat, decluttering is a must. If there is one guiding zero waste principle, it is this: you need significantly fewer things than you believe. It’s time to let go of items that aren’t adding value to your life and are only taking up space. You must get rid of things that are a waste of your time and contribute to environmental pollution.
Is decluttering environmentally beneficial?
Yes, a thousand times yes! The more ready you are to live a life devoid of wasteful expenses, the more likely you will be an advocate for resource conservation and, as a plus, you can save money doing so. Our planet does not have a limitless capacity for production. Consider quick fashion – large shops such as H&M and Forever 21 create incredibly poor quality, cheap apparel, having a low resale value in massive quantities.
Decluttering & the Zero Waste Path
Think about the time, work, and resources that go into manufacturing most things as we’re causing more of these goods to enter the market because of supply and demand by buying new items that we may not actually need. To make room for another item, one is removed from the previously occupied shelf by something we didn’t need (or believed we needed but never utilized). The ecosystems of our world pay a price for careless consumption.
To get into the zero waste mindset, it’s helpful to declutter and figure out how to reduce and remove your waste. This will also enable you to identify your own patterns and potential areas for improvement, reducing your overall footprint. It’s all worth it in the end!
Try not to approach decluttering as a must, don’t force yourself to do. Rather, determine what you value in life and eliminate everything that does not align with your ideal and existing lifestyle. For instance, if you are no longer interested in knitting, you may give away or gift your knitting instruments. Bring things into your life that are consistent with the person you are now.
Begin with what is visible
You don’t need to tackle your entire closet or attic all at once. Start small with a portion of your wardrobe, your kitchen, or your bookcases. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when you take on the whole elephant at once, so take it one step at a time. Your efforts will start to have a snowball effect, and once you get started, you will gather momentum.
Think about what matters to you
You should work to align your financial habits with your personal ideals. One of the most effective strategies for achieving happiness is to make decisions that are consistent with our beliefs. Values are the ideas and ideals that give our lives meaning and purpose. Do you place a premium on the items your friends or family purchase? If not, avoid spending money on the same items.
By defining what sets you apart from others, you may make financial choices based on what you desire rather than what those around you do. Significant improvements begin with little steps, so avoid being overwhelmed by the prospect of implementing all of these recommendations simultaneously. Making small, concerted efforts to examine what you can do to contribute to and produce less trash is the end goal.
Separate into three piles: Trash, Donate, and Save
This is the enjoyable part. Once you learn to recognize goods for what they really are, you can start to divide them into three piles. If possible, focus on how you can reduce the size of the “save” pile. It’s quite liberating to see the “trash” and “donate” piles rise as you let go of items dragging you down and discover what you truly need.
If you’re still having trouble tidying up and deciding what to get rid of, try the Marie Kondo method of cleaning and start with a category of an item and work through that category first.
Organize what remains
Naturally, there are certain items you’ll need to or want to keep. But what should we to do with them once we decide to keep something? First, figure out if they’re stored in a place that you can remember and easily get to. How often have you gone to the shop searching for something you thought you didn’t have, only to discover it lurking in a drawer a week later?
As a general rule of thumb, if you use it daily, you should not have to dig for it. Store it in a cupboard or drawer if it is only used once a week. Even the tiniest objects should be grouped if they perform a similar role, and smaller items should be stored in containers to prevent them from being lost.
Should you choose to declutter?
Limiting your possessions to what you absolutely need and avoiding lifestyle bloat will help you truly value the items you do decide to keep. An added benefit, when you spend less on items, you have more income to spend on experiences, which leads to a richer, more fulfilling life than having a lot of things that you may use just a handful of times before it sits and collects dust month after month. Decluttering is an easy talent to learn and one that will help you live your life more fully while not being overwhelmed by clutter or burdening Mother Nature. After all, keeping up with the Joneses isn’t worth it if it means harming the environment.
Decluttering and being mindful of what you purchase and use daily are a central part of the zero waste ethos. Doing so will not only help you save money but can also help you live a more fulfilling life.