Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waste Not Want Not ... When Less Is Enough

Not long ago my building renovated our laundry room, putting in new washing machines, which require half the amount of detergent to clean a load of clothes.  Use more, and you must run your clothes through a second wash cycle to get the suds out.  Suddenly we learned that less is enough.  And actually, it reinforces a lesson we received several years ago when our building installed new water-saving toilets.  Wad up a big-ball-of bathroom tissue, as some people tend to do, then try to flush it, and you will spend the next 15 minutes with a plunger and an unpleasant task before you.  Many residents in my building needed to replace their old habits with new ones.  Less was enough.

This got me thinking:  How many of us use too much product in other areas of our lives?  As a child, did your parents ever scold you for mindlessly running through paper towels, bottles of shampoo, or using too much electricity, or heat?  Mine were always on my case to turn off a light when I left a room and to use less product when less got a job done.  Figuring out what you need, instead of using too much, is an easy way to save money and the environment.  Not only will we spare a tree and use less gas and oil, but we'll accumulate less garbage and save time by not having to run to the store as often to restock.

Recently, I discovered that my hair looks better if I wash it with only a dime-size amount of shampoo and detangle it with a quarter-size amount of conditioner.  Also, these days I'm less likely to clutter up my bathroom with lots of similar products that do the same things.  I use up what works, before replacing it with something else that works.  Being a little more mindful of purchases and how much you use, simplifies your life and puts a few extra dollars in your pocket.

Although I try to be a careful buyer, recently I was struck with how many bars of scented soaps, pairs of socks and new shirts I have in my closets.  So now I plan to use the soap, socks and shirts before bringing any more of these items home.  It's time to be less of a gatherer and more of a user of what I already have.  Be aware. Use it, or loose it.  Sometimes less is enough.
Click here for The Story Of Stuff.

You many also enjoy:
Mean, Clean And Green
Millions Shop Ebay
Celebrate Earth Day
Where Value And Convenience Converge


  1. Love it! Have had a blog like this in my head for quite a while so I'm glad you put it on paper : ) before I did.
    I find using less detergent (even when it says to use the full cup) works just fine. How dirty are we?
    So many great tips. Thanks Debra!
    Keep on writing : )

  2. Just occurred to me that you could save not only by using less soap, shampoo, etc., but also by showering less. Americans are obsessed with cleanliness. I remember, when living in Europe, the big joke at hotels was how obsessed American tourists were with the quality of the bathrooms. We also shower too frequently. One doesn't have to shower daily to stay clean - as a matter of fact its not even good for your skin to shower that often.

    When was living in Germany - Germans routinely bathed once a week - on Saturday evenings. You didn't want to go shopping in a crowded store on a Saturday afternoon, knowing full well that the atmosphere in the store would be rather pungent. Of course, the pungent atmosphere troubled only Americans, not the Germans.

    I'm not saying bathe or shower one a week - but every day? Not necessary!

  3. Thanks for the support, Becky!

    Anonymous, I guess we, Americans are obsessed with showering daily. A few years ago when I had the flu and could barely hold my head up, I still staggered into the bathroom to take a showers. And thought I felt better for it. It's what you get used to. I'd make a poor pioneer woman ... or German, unless they've changed their ways.

  4. Have to agree with you about the laundry detergent and shampoo. Another thing is toothpaste. A dental hygienist (sp?) once told me that it's not the amount of toothpaste you use, but the actual brushing - and frequency of brushing - that works on your teeth and gums. I don't think they would want me on that pioneer wagon, either! But no one says that showers have to be the long, water-wasting kind, either.

  5. @ Loretta, you've brought up more good points. Quick showers are not such a sacrifice.