Oh That? You Don’t Really Need It

By Adam Eisman – Contributing Writer
Posted on Sunday 3rd May 2009

Americans love useless crap. It’s true. There is even a multi-billion dollar industry based on this premise; the Infomercial. However, as times get tougher economically, many Americans are looking for ways to save money, while at the same time, promoting sustainability and trying to help out the environment. It can be hard to break old habits, and some things that you really don’t need seem central to your daily routine. The following items are ones that should be disposed of quickly for more sustainable ones that can actually save you money.

Air Fresheners

Most of the leading brands of home air fresheners actually release harmful chemicals into your home. Instead of purchased a plug-in freshener, just open a window to let the sweet smell of fresh air in. Also, if your home is really that stinky, maybe you should try to rid yourself of the stinky parts instead of covering it over with the faint smell of rich lavender.

Bottled Water

I mean, come on. Are you seriously still buying bottled water? Most versions are actually just purified tap water (Dasani, I’m looking at you!), which you could easily make yourself, at a greatly reduced cost. The average bottle of water goes for about a dollar and a quarter, but with Brita Filters, in tap Filters, and Water Bottles with purifiers built right in, you can save yourself almost 99% of the price of one bottle of water each time you fill up. The New York Times recently explained that to get the suggested eight glasses of water a day by bottled water would cost $1,440 annually, while the same amount of water from the tap costs a total of 49 cents. Do the math.

*Notice I didn’t even mention the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills; until now.

Dryer Sheets

These contain a mixture of synthetic chemicals that can be retained in your clothing after wash and then absorbed through the skin. For a more sustainable way to keep your clothing static free, Patti Wood of the Grassroots Environmental Education group says you can add a half cup of distilled white vinegar, or a quarter cup of baking soda to achieve the same effect.

DVDs and Books

We live in a digital age. Most of the things you would like to watch or read can be gleaned digitally from the internet. Buying CDs may be a tradition you formed when you first got into music, but these days, it is more cost-effective, and friendlier to the environment to buy the songs online. The same goes for video games and movies, which can be rented from an online video or game library and returned without the hassle of driving to the store of late fees. The Amazon Kindle allows readers to take in their favorite reads with the comfort of an electronic device in the palms of their hands. No paper and no trees need be involved.

Wrapping Paper

Never buy wrapping paper. It is the most useless product on the market. It’s entire purpose is to conceal the contents of a present until it is viciously marred and tossed away in an instant. Use things from around the house to wrap presents, like old newspapers, old maps, magazines, paper bags, and whatever else you feel comfortable throwing away. You can decorate it any way you’d like, and if you know your gift recipient well enough, they may come to treasure your wrapping just as much as the prize inside.

There is plenty to think about as we collectively tighten our belts, but reconsidering the way we do things is never a futile exercise, as constant questioning of methods will ultimately lead to efficiency. Keep rethinking the things you buy every day, and sooner or later you’ll see that you have most of the things you need already.

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