If you’ve ever read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you’ll remember that a good hitchhiker always carries a towel. There is some advanced (and comical) reasoning behind it, and in our own world, there are a few items that you can also carry with you to make your own life easier and reduce the footprint you create. I have recently become more vigilant about how much waste I create and knowing that in the end, this waste costs everyone more money. However, instead of focusing on recycling, which is the lowest part of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra, creating less waste means fewer costs in our business and personal lives.
1. Safe, reusable water bottle everywhere you spend time.
Did you know that the average office worker goes through about 500 disposable cups per year? It never seems like a lot of waste at the moment and since you’re not paying for it upfront, it’s often easy to get into the habit of using disposable cups wherever they’re available. But your company most definitely pays for those cups and they are not cheap. What if you had your own reusable cup? If you save 500 cups each year and influence others to do the same, then that can add up to real dollars in the bottom line. Even more importantly, it can reduce waste going to the landfill and the cost of hauling that waste, another cost that you as an employee may not think is yours but one that is certainly affecting the profits of your business. So if you really want to stop using plastic bottles and disposable cups every time you need a drink of water, check out some BPA-free reusable bottles and put one everywhere you spend time and don’t have access to regular glasses: at work, in your car and in your bag when you travel (notice how you always grab a cup of water at the hotel lobby where they have those cucumber-infused water stands? This time you can use your reusable cup). Now you can free yourself from ever buying a $3 water anywhere, even the airport. Just wait until you are past security and fill up your bottle for the flight.
2. Flip-flops or comfortable shoes
Hear me out. Have you ever noticed that when you’re tired you start spending more money? Ever gone to a restaurant after walking around all day and feel the urge to order three appetizers? Bought an extra snack or grabbed some clothes off the rack just to get out of the store faster, telling yourself you can return the item if it doesn’t fit? I bet at least half of those situations can be avoided if you had comfortable shoes to change into. Put a pair of flip-flops in your car and you’ll find that you can make smarter decisions on a long day instead of focusing on the immediate need to get off your feet.
3. Trail Mix
I think you see where I’m going here. Most of our bad spending decisions tend to happen when we’re tired, thirsty or hungry. Trail mix doesn’t expire quickly and if you throw a bag in your car or your desk, you can snack on something healthy and avoid the need to buy an overpriced or unhealthy snack. Get a bulk size and use your own reusable containers, and you are one eco-loving, cost-conscious citizen.
Starting your day prepared gets you off on the right foot. It’s easier to focus on your work when you have everything you need to sustain yourself. What must-have items have you started carrying with you?