The Big Impact
I was on a trip one time with a friend of mine when I noticed something peculiar. Now, that's not entirely unexpected. When you get into close quarters with other people, there are bound to be differences.
People load the dishwasher differently. Some may stick the forks face down so that they don't impale you when unloading. I do it the 'right way', face up so that they actually get clean. Just kidding - if you like them face down, you're not wrong.
People also fight differently. Some yell and scream. Others retreat, carefully pondering the argument before returning to try to find some resolution.
And people also use varying amounts of toilet paper. Some use a little; others use a lot.
I realized on this trip that I use very little - just what I need. I don't know if it was a conscious decision, but somewhere along the line, I realized that toilet paper comes from a natural resource and has to go somewhere too. As I extrapolated the idea, I realized the sheer amount of toilet paper waste we make every single day of our lives. It's staggering to think about.
But then I saw how my friend went through the roll: almost a third of a roll in one sitting. (Or should that be 'sitting' with an 'h'?)
It's strange to have such an emotional reaction to such an odd, little thing as a third of a roll of toilet paper, but I was really quite floored. I couldn't believe someone could use that amount all at once. I couldn't fathom a toilet that would even accommodate it! But sure enough, that's how my friend… uh… 'rolled'.
I know this because I'm the type of person who would ask, who would actually have a conversation about how much toilet paper a person uses or requires. It's not so much that I care and feel a need to impose my will and way on others, but I'm curious if they've ever stopped to even think about the effect they're having. Have they paused to consider the amount of waste that is produced this way, where it goes, and just how much can be saved, simply by being aware?
I thought of this again recently when I finally changed my roll the other day. I couldn't remember the last time I had to change it. One roll likely lasted me about 3 weeks, perhaps more. And I'm a girl, so I use a little each time I go.
And I've never had a problem using little. I've never had cleanliness issues.
But I love the positive side-effects: feeling like I've done something positive for the environment, saving money, and even just being efficient.
I carry that same mindset into other areas of my life. For instance, I love shopping second-hand. Some of my friends and family shudder a little when I say I'm going clothes shopping at Goodwill or Value Village. But then, they always compliment me on the beautiful finds I'm wearing the following week: silk dresses for $7, a cashmere sweater for $8, and a pile of jeans for $20.
I can't help but feel a bit super when I know I've not only saved money, but saved all of those resources from ending up in a landfill somewhere.
Recently, I needed some more pants. I hadn't been shopping in some time, and had worn through a few items. Well, I gathered my pennies and went to Value Village where I b-lined straight to the section I needed: pants. I tried on the pairs that looked like the right size and shape, that were in good condition (some with original tags) and managed to find exactly what I wanted. But I also perused some dresses, sweaters and shoes. This is where it got really exciting for me.
As I was looking down the racks, I kept seeing strange, unique, wonderful clothing I wouldn't find anywhere else. I kept thinking, "where is this from?" and "that's a unique piece!" I could never have gone to a store to get such variety.
Granted, the experience of shopping at Value Village is a little different than anywhere else. It's not the most pleasant. But getting an incredible deal on an outfit I would never otherwise find always trumps that.
And these are just two ways I've learned to be frugal, resourceful and environmentally responsible. I also love using my groceries creatively, so that they don't go bad. I've come up with some pretty wild meals, just by combining foods that might not traditionally go together.
All this is to say that there are things we do everyday that have an impact on our budgets, our lives and the world around us. And if you've never looked at that impact or considered ways you could lessen it, I hope this gives you new perspective and cause to do so.
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