Remember the reusable straw phenomenon that happened last year? The one that began a movement towards paper, steel, or glass straws to get away from disposing of plastic straws that harmed wild turtles? The movement took off so much that large corporations such as Starbucks got on board. That’s just one example of how disposable our world has become. From clothing to straws to even people, human beings treat everything as if they are disposable. So much so that there are movements out there—like the straws—to reverse it.

With 2019 in full swing, more thought leaders are encouraging people to take a step back and see what they can reduce, reuse, and recycle to get a handle on simplifying their lives. Start by sparking joy in the items you already own.

Sparking Joy

Take the KonMari Method from Marie Kondo for example. In her Netflix Originals series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”, she shares her principles with people who struggle to get rid of clutter. She asks them to only keep items that spark joy and rid of those who don’t. In a way, this is almost similar to the idea of minimalism; instead of buying more, people are cognizant of what they have and how it contributes to their ideal self and future.

While this method has a disposing and decluttering aspect to it, it really asks people to take the time to personally connect with their possessions and how they contribute to their well-being. And for the possessions that don’t, you thank them for their service as you choose to donate them or discard of them. Through this method, you can have control over your belongings and how they will serve you going forward.

Gratitude

One of the biggest culprits to a disposable world is instant gratification. We are all guilty of it. With the rise of online shopping, this has only made the problem worse. Services such as two-day shipping can make it so you can get your hands on your latest obsession in little to no time. This method of impulse buying isn’t good for us and isn’t good for our wallets. Instead of taking the time to see what we have and how we can reuse it or better utilize it, we discard it in the hope of something better. In 2019, make it your goal to get away from this mentality.

Instead, focus on gratitude. One of the ways you can do this is keep a gratitude log in a journal and write a line in it every night before bed. This can help you reflect and find the good in every day. Whether it’s an accomplishment, or just seeing a friend after being apart for a while, gratitude can help you have a whole new outlook on life. It’s been proven that gratitude can help you mentally and physically while strengthening your self-esteem and relationships. Go ahead and give it a try and see how your life can change for the better.

Value Your Relationships

The rise of social media and smartphones have made relationships more disposable over the years. Friends are dropped for no reason or over something that can be fixed over a conversation. On the other hand, it becomes harder to maintain relationships as you grow older. After college, everyone is separated, living their own life and doing their own thing. This makes it harder to keep in touch with friends, so you and the other person have to make a conscious effort to keep in touch, so you don’t fall out of touch.

Do yourself a favor and value the relationships that you hold near and dear. If you know your friend is giving a huge presentation at work, send them a “good luck” text. If you are feeling down and need someone to talk to, give your friend a call. And most importantly, thank your friends. Even if it’s something small, thank them for their support. It goes a long way in making them feel like the time and energy they put into their friendship with you is valued. True friends are hard to come by so make sure you do everything you can to keep the ones that you have.

Do the Environment Justice

This one is essentially a no-brainer. When we think of “disposable”, we often think of the environment. Small steps can be taken over time to treat the environment the way it should be treated. A few ideas are:

  • Use a reusable coffee tumbler (such as a Yeti) for your morning coffee
  • Reusable straws
  • Microfiber cleaning cloths instead of paper towels
  • Biking or taking public transportation to work
  • Shopping at secondhand stores for clothing

Even if you don’t consider yourself a big recycler or don’t have the means to, you can still take other actions to contribute to the well-being of the environment. Not only do these actions benefit the world around you, but they also give you a sense of accomplishment when you successfully participate.

Though it may be hard to get out of the disposable trap, these actions can help you take the steps necessary to transform your life for the better. You’ll be able to clear the clutter and focus on the people, place, and possessions in your life that really matter. So, what are you waiting for? Start the challenge today!

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