Turning 33 doesn’t have a ring to it like 21, 30, or let us be real…any age in our 20’s. However, looking back on the last 10 years I feel I am the same person, yet totally different. Yes, I still talk too much, and randomly break out a leprechaun heel-click while walking, but I’ve learned the importance of sleep, the fact that nothing can cure a hangover, and many differences when it comes to my spending habits.
Working a corporate desk job for almost 5 years I was required to take a 30-60 minute lunch, which usually meant I would spend 59 minutes at the closest Ross, TJ Maxx, or Home Goods store. I would shop for a new work blouse, maybe a new seasonal candle, or a funky new pair of shoes. Did I need the new work blouse? Nope. The seasonal candle? Nope. The funky new pair of shoes? Well… no, not even the funky pairs of shoes that are currently taking precious space in my garage.
Why? Why would I feel comfortable dropping $100 on stuff that I knew I did not need, but that distracted me from the stressful/sometimes dull/and simple day. If I were not shopping at a physical store, I would find myself buying an overpriced latte sitting at a coffee shop wasting 45 minutes just scrolling on my phone buying other unnecessary things from Amazon. I know I majored in shopping (it was really called ‘Retail and Consumer Science’, but close enough), but this was a significant bad habit. I felt justified to feel distracted for a few minutes and buy something that I knew I didn’t need, that was (more than likely) not ethically made, and even worse, I would bring it home in a plastic bag. Yuck!!!! Was that just a phase in my life… yes. But that phase is now over (can I get an AMEN!), and while I’ve learned from those silly habits, I’ve also learned to incorporate new habits that are a better use of my time, my wallet, the environment, and the community.
Here are some other examples of the behaviors that I have noticed have changed in the past 10 years… and I look forward to even more behavior changes in the next 10 years:
1) Using any excuse to buy a brand-new outfit. A friend’s birthday dinner, an interview, a random Thursday night, were all reasonable excuses to spend time and money (that a broke college student truly did not have) shopping for more clothes.
Re-wear something that I have already worn in a picture on Facebook. It’s really not a big deal! I’ve also learned how to ask to borrow clothes from friends for big events, and since I’ve been the same size for the past 10 years (thank you genetics!), I’ve learned to take care of the quality clothing pieces that fit me great. Less truly is more!
2) Bag anything and everything. Even if the item was small to fit in my purse… the concept of declining a bag was simply not a thought. Plan out my shopping trips with reusable bags, produce bags, wine bags, and kindly refuse when I do not even need a bag. Also, I now plan my errands together to reduce the total miles driven, therefore not using as much gas while saving precious time.
3) Purchase expensive lattes in a one-time-use cup to only waste time scrolling on my phone.
Learn to make delicious coffee at home! (If that means buying your favorite syrup or flavor then so be it. The long-term savings just make sense.) Or, when meeting friends at a coffee shop I either enjoy in a real mug to enjoy there or bring my own to-go mug!*
4) Buy from Amazon any time and all the time. Purchase from Amazon as a last resort.
I ask myself these questions: 1) Is there an eco-friendly replacement?
2) Is this item sold in local stores? (if yes, this option will have a lower carbon footprint then delivery)
3) Is there a replacement I can use in the meantime?
4) If a ‘no’ is answered to question 1-3 and Amazon is the best option, then I wait until I have additional necessities in my cart in hopes I can combine the packaging **
Meal Related Habits:
5) Order lunch online just to bring it back to the office/home to eat Now I kindly ask friends to dine-in with me to prevent accumulating unnecessary trash on to-go orders. (Unnecessary trash = the food container, plastic bag, utensil bag, which ALL will end up in the trash.)
6) Buy any fruits and vegetable based on what I was craving. Now I visit the farmers market to buy season produce that are not wrapped in plastic wrapping.
7) Buying fresh produce for weeknight meals yet letting it spoil because I’m too tired to make a meal out of it I now plan 1 hour after arriving home from the grocery store to clean & chop all produce for quicker week-night meals. You will thank yourself every night.
8) Over-stuff the fridge and losing track of what the heck is in there Keeping the “eat-me-now” foods at the front of the fridge shelve at eye-level. And using a “eat me now” small white-board sign on the fridge to reduce (and hopefully!) eliminate waste.
9) Using paper towels as a daily cleaning solution. Replace the roll of paper towels with a stack of small/medium kitchen towels (or keep a drawer of these, hello counter space!) You. Will. Not. Miss. Them.
10) Using one-time use items for parties: plates, napkins, cutlery, cups Plates: I have replaced paper placed with thin, yet sturdy reusable plates that fit easy in the dishwasher.
Napkins: If reusable cloth napkins are not an option, look for paper napkins that are made from recycled materials.
Cutlery: Purchase an additional cutlery set at your local second-hand store. Or, offer finger-foods that are served with wooden (not plastic!) toothpicks for party-like food (less to clean!).
Glassware: Stemless wine glasses for everything! Scientifically proven that wine, margaritas, water, and anything in-between tastes great in stemless wine glasses. Bonus! They come in acrylic (great for pool parties), and fit easier in the dishwasher then regular wine glasses.
*Bonus! Why not hire a neighborhood kid to help clean the party during and after the event? You will be helping the local economy and will have more time to socialize! (Winning!)
*The concept of enjoying a coffee at a coffee shop in a mug they provide, or my own to-go travel cup may not be an option as of today, Sep 10th due to Covid-13, however, I truly hope these options will be available to us again in the future
**Tip! If you also use Amazon as a last resort do not forget that you can request Amazon to only use cardboard as a filler instead of plastic. Also! Do not forget to look out for opportunities to prolong your delivery during your check-out screen if they can group items in your purchase.