What If You Cut Your Consumption Rates by Half?

by Inbar Hyams, OuiChoose.com   |   July 18, 2018


As a consumer, I put a lot of effort into aligning my choices with my values—until the decision fatigue sets in:

  • Should I shop at small businesses in order to have a local impact, or support responsible corporate brands to have a global impact?
  • Should I buy the organic blueberries that come in plastic packaging, or the conventional ones offered in bulk?
  • Should I make DIY green cleaners for my home or buy the ones branded as eco-friendly? And are they really eco-friendly?  

Directing my buying power to support these values certainly feels nice, but with so many choices to make and variables to consider, it’s hard to determine which ones actually have a collective effect.

Looking for specific answers doesn’t necessarily help, as I'm often led down online rabbit holes of conflicted debate that end up at the same underwhelming conclusion: it depends.

And if I’m really honest, most days I’m just as likely to make choices by casting a sideward glance at my circle of peers than by looking through an intersecting prism of rational arguments. For example, compared to the stereotype of a meat-grilling, SUV-driver who is so often maligned as the enemy of the environment, I might feel like Citizen Green, but the comparison is misleading. A more useful frame of reference would be to a rural family of eight living in Namibia.

What if instead of breaking our heads trying to determine the optimal choices, we go for something radically simple and just cut our consumption rates by half? 

How much of an impact would this have on the pressing environmental issues we currently face? How would it influence our personal wellbeing, our children’s wellbeing, or that of workers in emerging economies who produce much of what we use?

We've compiled information that attempts to answer these “big picture” questions. It’s based on basic number-crunching that slashes in half five goods and services that we consume regularly, and replaces the remaining half with better viable alternatives.

These five areas are:

  • Screen time
  • Fast fashion
  • Plastic toys
  • Palm oil
  • Meat

Read the rest of the article for tips on halving your consumption rates in these five areas.

Inbar Hyams is co-creator of the OuiChoose blog and is an author, blogger, content strategist, and radical decluttering warrior. OuiChoose is a platform for documenting a simple, minimalist lifestyle and sharing it with like-minded folks.