Climate change and its consequences are looming over us, becoming a huge part of the public concern and conversations. Protecting the environment is no longer an option, but rather a mandate for all of us.

Most likely, this is not going to be the only such crisis we’ll have to face, brought on, at least partially, by human interference in the environment. It’s essential we learn how to use less resources, to decrease waste, and to reduce our carbon footprint. Our grandparents’ “waste not, want not” philosophy might be just the right approach – and self storage can help you keep your stuff safe on the long run, thus reducing the need for new purchases.

Fast fashion is unsustainable – here’s how to stop the cycle

The way we buy and use clothes changed dramatically during the last couple of decades, and, unfortunately, not for the better. A McKinsey and Company research shows that clothing manufacturing doubled from 2000 to 2014, due to falling costs and rising consumer spending. People are buying more clothes than ever, however each garment gets little use before being discarded.

Major clothing companies are introducing new clothing collections each month, or even be-weekly, stimulating consumption. Unfortunately, about 85% of the textiles mad each year are dumped in landfills, some directly by consumers, and others by the clothing companies that manufacture a lot more than they can actually sell.

In fact, according to the United Nation’s Environment Program, the fashion industry produces 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions. Manufacturing just one pair of jeans wastes an astounding 2,000 gallons of water.

  • Smart ways to reduce the waste

So, what can you do to reduce such waste? Here are some simple steps that make a huge difference. First of all, shop for good-quality clothes made of natural fiber. Garments that contain polyester and other synthetic materials shed small pieces of those fibers – the so-called microplastics. Microplastics are estimated to make more than 30% of the plastic pollution in the oceans.

Research the fashion companies and make sure you are purchasing from responsible manufacturers. Some companies do take steps to reduce waste and their impact on the environment, and it’s important to reward them.

Good quality clothing made of natural fibers and fabrics tend to be a little more expensive than fast-fashion garments. However, on the long run, the first ones are the most economical, as you get a lot more “mileage” out of sturdier, well-made items.

Saving clothing for further use is another smart way to reduce waste. You probably paid thousands of dollars on clothing for your children, or on office outfits you’re not using while staying at home with them. You might be tempted to discard it all, for lack of space, but why waste all of it? A storage unit is a safe and affordable way to keep those clothing items until you need them again, hence reducing your impact on the environment and saving you money.

Reduce the waste even further – from furniture to household items and tools

The same way there’s fast fashion, we also have fast furniture – inexpensive and convenient, but taking a huge tall on the environment. Since people don’t pay a lot of money on it, they tend to discard it after a few years, and don’t even bother to pack and transport it when moving. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw out about 12 million tons of furniture each year.

That’s a lot of wasted wood, not to mention the fact that, for cheap furniture, wood is usually first turned into particle boards. These boards contain dangerous chemicals, like formaldehyde, and they’re neither biodegradable nor recyclable.

Purchasing furniture that last decades, instead of furniture that lasts a few years, is obviously the better way, from an environmental point of view. If you can’t afford getting expensive, durable wood furniture, make sure you are protecting the one you are able to buy, so that you don’t have to purchase new pieces soon.

Most of us turn their noses to furniture inherited from grandparents and other old relatives, but we definitely shouldn’t. Furniture manufactured a few decades ago is not only sturdier and better quality than most of the items available today but became quite fashionable lately.

In fact, it could be more expensive than you think.  Original pieces of furniture from the 50s and the 60s might sell for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, depending on design, materials and condition. Next time you great aunt tells you she kept a dining room set for you, make sure you check it out before refusing the offer.

  • Take good care of household items and tools

Precious energy and resources are being spent to manufacture every little item that surrounds us, and it’s our duty to take care of it all, in order to limit unnecessary purchases. We all need and use things like garden furniture, gardening tools, lawnmowers, snowblowers, and many other items – but how much attention are we really paying to maintaining it properly?

A simple gesture, such as storing your garden furniture and lawnmower in a self storage unit for the winter will prolong their lifespan for years, helping you save money and protect the environment at the same time.

How much living space do you really need?

Purchasing a home, or renting one, it’s an expense, both in terms of money and also from an environmental point of view. Larger homes have higher carbon footprints, starting with the actual building process and ending with the energy costs of keeping them warm in the winter, cool during the summers, well lit, clean and so on.

Therefore, it’s important to assess your needs and get a home that’s large enough for you and your family, not for your stuff. You can always declutter your stuff and put the items you’re not using every day in storage. Assuming you live in an expensive metro area, such as San Francisco, or New York City, this strategy will not only make you environmentally conscious but will also save you money.

The street rate for a self-storage unit in NYC, for example, hovers around $175 per month for a roomy, 10X10 one, according to Yardi Matrix. This unit size will allow you to store plenty of items, such as out of season clothing, sporting equipment, furniture you don’t need at the moment, and so on. It’s a lot less expensive and less wasteful than getting a bigger home in order to have space for your things.

According to Luke Hancock from Bin There Dump That (USA), franchise data reports of an upward trend in property renovations with the sole purpose of downsizing and maximizing usage as space, which clearly shapes a distinctive shift in society and how we live.

Being mindful of what and how much you purchase, and of your consumption habits, it’s probably the most efficient method of reducing pollution. We need to ditch the “single use” mentality and gravitate toward making the most of the stuff we own. Our current habits are taking a huge tall on the environment, one that we truly can no longer afford.


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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