This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.  

In the last decade, we have dramatically decreased the amount of garbage we produce as a family. We’ve done this by switching to reusable items, being more conscious of packaging when we buy things and by recycling whenever possible.

Every time I walk by our recycling (we live outside the recycling service area) I think, “We have seriously got to take that recycling in.” It just piles up so quickly.

And that is where the problem lies.

Many people think of recycling when they think of taking care of the earth. And it’s pretty important. I totally understand the need for recycling and applaud those who make major efforts to spread the word about it.

But there is still a good amount of processing that goes into recycling something and it still involves using something up and discarding it. And who’s to say that the next owner of said item will recycle it?

Hmmm. I think recycling should be our last resort.

Reduce and reuse? Absolutely essential and things that I think people should put much more effort into promoting. But there is another R, one that rarely is brought up and one that recently came to my attention that I think should be preached louder than the rest.


Granted, I’m a woman with a minimalist bent, but I believe that any family can be more mindful about their consumption.

The first step is to take a look at what’s coming into our homes. Do we really need all of those paper bills, receipts and food packaging? No, we really don’t. And avoiding processed, packaged foods not only has a positive effect on the planet, but your waistline and overall health as well.

Refusing is critical. When we realize that we don’t need all of this stuff and just say no, then the question of the best way to deal with it once we’re done using it goes away.

Next time your out shopping, consider these three things:

Do I really need it?

Do you, really? Really? Come on, be honest. Is this something that absolutely has to be in your home? If not, DO NOT BUY IT! Don’t. Your kids will live. Your husband will live. You will live.

Learning how to say no and walk away consistently will not only save you money in the moment but it gives you the ability to say no to other things in the future (like the siren that is Dairy Queen).

Can I borrow it?

We forget about this a lot. I know I do. There are tons of people out there with loads of stuff that they just don’t use. Some of them are your friends AND they would love to loan it to you. Why not try that first when you really need something?

(This is the main reason why we don’t own a pickup – also our minivan can do pretty everything a pickup can.)

My quickest way of finding something to borrow is sending out a group text or posting it on facebook. (I have a serious aversion to phone calls). When you get a response, you’ve not only saved money, but you also have the opportunity to visit with your friend. Bonus.

Where can I buy this used?

Ok, you need it and nobody has one that you can borrow. So you just go back to the store and get it, right? No! This does not mean that you have to buy it new. This is where Craigslist, facebook, ebay and freecycle become your best friends. Exhaust all of these resources before you go out and buy a brand new appliance or tool.

What? Too much work for one thing you say? Maybe you don’t need it after all. 😉