How to Consume Less: 7 Steps to Greater Independence

Photos: © cottonfioc, Thomas Bethge - Fotolia.com; BamRob, boing Quelle: photocase.com

Buy buy buy – for almost everything we need, we run to the store and purchase brand-new items. Our dependence on readily available goods and services often blind us to the fact that we can often perform these simple tasks or create these goods ourselves. These seven tips will help you venture outside the box of consumerism this year.

1. Harvest your own Veggies

Control your consumption grow your own food
Growing your own food is rewarding and leaves something you can be proud of – give it a try! (Photo: © cottonfioc - Fotolia.com)

Growing your own food is the easiest way to assert your independence from the food industry. If you have your own backyard, you’re already a step ahead. For those without, all it takes is a bit of creativity for urban dwellers to grow food on their balconies, terraces, or even windowsills. Herbs, tomatoes, strawberries and even potatoes can all be grown in simple pots.

And of course: Whether you’re growing basil or your own stash of edamame beans, you’ll never want your harvest to go to waste. Check out our tips on how to put vegetable scraps back to use: Reuse Vegetable Scraps: Skip the Trash and put Food back on your Plate. Make the most out of what you harvest with creative recipe ideas such as homemade pesto or vegetable broth.

2. The Freedom of Cycling

Control your consumption ride your bike
No gas or electricity required: The only energy you’ll need to burn is your own. (Photo: © suschaa - photocase.com)

An oldie but a goodie: Ride your bike everywhere and anywhere possible – to work, to the gym or to meet your friends. You’re immediately independent from auto producers, gas prices, public transportation agencies, and even traffic. Plus: You won’t be stuck in an overcrowded subway car or a traffic jam anytime soon. The only way you’re even more independent is when walking on your own two feet.

3. Let It All Hang Out … to Dry

Control your consumption dry laundry outside
Even if you’re stuck inside on a beautiful day, your clothes don’t need to be! (Photo: © sör alex - photocase.com)

It’s so simple: Hang up your laundry to dry rather than putting it in the dryer. A dryer requires a massive amount of energy and is usually unnecessary. Whether you hang it outdoors or in your house, your laundry will dry on the line by itself all without requiring a lick of electricity. Just keep an eye on humidity levels in the winter and you’ll be fine.

4. Don’t Toss It, Compost It

Control your consumption compost pile
If it doesn’t make it back onto your plate, make sure it makes it to the compost pile. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - pixel2013)

Do yourself and the environment a favor and start a compost pile. Your fruit and veggie waste languishes not in the landfill, but rather can be reused to provide valuable nutrients for your houseplants and garden pots and plots. Keeping a compost pile harnesses valuable energy from our food waste and eliminates the need to carry heavy sacks of dirt for planting. It’s an easy and important step on the path to self-sufficiency.

You can also play your part in stopping food waste in its tracks by storing it correctly at home. Check our guide Storing Food: 7 Easy Tricks to Avoid Food Waste for helpful tips and tricks on how to reduce your impact on the environment and control your consumption.

5. Do It Yourself

Minimalist living repair tools
When something breaks or temporarily stops working, try your hand at fixing before replacing it. (Photo: Pixabay.de/cc0/coyot)

Patching, mending, gluing, sanding, screwing, painting – repairing items is not as difficult as we think. And it’s totally green, because it prevents waste and saves natural resources. Finally, you are more independent of consumer drives when you make do with what you have rather than buy a new replacement. If you need help in your handiwork, always check YouTube for a variety of professional and amateur repair videos; if you need further assistance, look for a repair cafe in your area.

6. Make your own Cleaning Supplies

Make your own cleaning supplies lemon
Descale your coffee machine or kettle with vinegar and citric acid – no need for expensive descaling kits. (Photo: © fotofuerst - Fotolia.com)

Most industrially produced cleaners contain ingredients that are harmful to us and to the environment. And for what, when basic household items do the job just as well? Vinegar and citric acid fight lime scale, baking soda counteracts grease und unclogs your drain, and potato peels add luster and shine.
Here’s a simple recipe for an all-around cleaner:

  1. Place an orange peel in a clean lidded jar and fill with vinegar.
  2. Let it sit for one to two weeks, then remove orange peel.
  3. Add equal amounts of vinegar and water into a clean spray bottle of your choice. Use as needed.

Your oven needs a thorough cleaning after some heavy duty baking or it’s time give those windows a scrub-down? Here’s the good news: You don’t need professional-grade chemical cleaning foams and sprays to get your either looking shiny again. Give these a try instead: Homemade Oven Cleaner: 3 DIY Methods Better Than Chemical Cleaners and Homemade Window Cleaner: DIY Glass Cleaner for a Streak-free Shine.

7. Take your Wardrobe into your own Hands

Slow Fashion capsule wardrobe minimalism minimalist method
A minimalist wardrobe is one great way to embrace conscious and sustainable consumption by breaking your wardrobe down to the basics. (Photo: © Geneva Vanderzeil)

Sewing, knitting, and crocheting are the hobbies of the moment. If you’re handy, patient, and the owner of a sewing machine, you’re already on your way to independence from the fashion industry. Clothing you produce yourself can immunize you against trend thinking and allow you to make style choices that are totally about you: your shape, your coloring, your taste, your comfort.

Another splendid way to pinpoint your precise style and taste in clothing is adopting a minimalist wardrobe. This involves taking inventory of the clothes you own, weeding out your most fashionable and combinable favorites and sticking to these. The rest are passed on and given a second life somewhere else – either at the local flea market or in your cleaning door: That old t-shirt you hardly ever wore is sure to make for a great new dust rag. Creating your own minimalist wardrobe will lead you to consume less and to be more aware of what you buy. Plus: No more closet-clearing searches for the perfect outfit in the morning.

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This article was translated from German into English. You can view the original here: Stoppt den Konsumwahn!

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