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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Green Living: Waste Less

Resources to help you green your home and make better environmental decisions.


An important part of living green is rethinking the way you make decisions so that you waste fewer resources. posed these questions in a blog post entitled "8 questions to ask before buying ‘stuff’":

  • Can I afford this stuff?
  • Do I need this stuff?
  • Will this stuff create or reduce clutter in my life?
  • Does this stuff replace some other stuff that is still functional?
  • Does this stuff somehow make a task or activity easier?
    • Corollary: Is this stuff a unitasker? Do I already have stuff that will do the same thing?
  • Can this stuff help someone?
  • Will buying this stuff hurt the environment more than it will help me?
  • Is this high quality stuff or junk?

The books below include a look at the consequences of a consumer driven society and tips for making better environmental decisons. In addition, Earth911 has an excellent step-by-step guide to reducing your household waste. Another excellent resource is New Dream's Beyond Consumerism web site.

For information on green products, see the Buying Green section of this guide. Subpages in this section include tips for efficient energy and water use.

Watch The Story of Stuff

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns.

The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

Watch Graham Hill: Less stuff, more happiness

TEDTalks shares the best ideas from the TED Conference with the world, for free: trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons and geniuses, all giving the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. TEDTalks are licensed under Creative Commons. Look for more TEDTalks on YouTube or the TED web site.