Optional Mission: Reducing Consumerism

There’s a lot you can do as an individual to cut down on the number of products you consume, but sometimes it’s pretty hard to avoid buying new things. The goal of this post is to inspire some ideas for ways to minimize the impact from consumer purchases.

Waterless hygiene products

Cleaning and hygiene products have a lot of active ingredients that are challenging for an ordinary consumer to handle, but for most of these products the main ingredient is water. Pre-mixed aqueous solutions are convenient and easy to work with, but they also generate a lot of waste because the require more complex containers (watertight manifolds) and because water is heavy which adds to shipping costs/energy. I’ve been pleasantly surprised recently how far powdered / solid cleaners work for everything from toilet bowl cleaner, to shampoos and conditioners, to toothpastes. Most of these products come wrapped in paper, which has cut down how much plastic I end up throwing out as well!

Air Conditioning reduction

Temperature control is also top of mind right now, with the planet reaching record breaking temperatures. While I’d love to see this drive adoption for geodesic domes and projects like passivehaus, there are a lot of things residents can do in the meantime:

  • In most climates it’s more effective to cool your space at night and let the temperature creep up over the day
  • Evaporative cooling is a technology that’s been around for centuries in the forms of bulidings (qanat, salsabil), and even bottles (botijo). The low cost version for this in arid reasons is a wet towel next to your fan, but some companies have made residential scale evaporative coolers as well
  • Windows are great for mental health, but pretty challenging to handle from an insulation perspective. Technology has come a long way with coated glass filled with noble gasses, but the most effective solution is usually to shade the outside of your window