Sustainability, Energy and Environment Community

University of Colorado Boulder


buy less, buy better

When shopping, ask yourself: “Do I really need this?” If the answer is "yes," then buy a quality product that will last.


For my family, less really is more

Portrait of Wei Wang

Wei Wang


For me and my family, when it comes to getting products, we absolutely see that less is more.

Home cleaning? Most of the time I use a plant-based all-purpose cleaner that contains no harmful synthetic chemicals or petroleum products. It does the job well and only takes up one storage spot under the kitchen sink for all my floor, counter, stove, and other cleaning needs.

Neighborhood parties? Birthday celebrations? We try to stay away from paper and disposable products. Re-usable picnic plates, cups and utensils, and cloth napkins make the gatherings just as enjoyable and less waste to landfills. Yes, we bring our own plates and other things along when we go to picnic parties too.

Laundry? When living on the east coast, we used to line-dry laundry when the weather permitted. Here in Colorado we discovered that we can get away without having a dryer at all. Occasionally, we have to make a trip to a laundromat. But with a little ahead-of-time checking the weather, it has been less than once per year.

Car? A bigger impact on reducing our carbon footprint probably would be the choice we made about our car. More than 17 years ago, we carefully did our research and bought a new Corolla. Indeed, it has been giving us over 40 miles per gallon and running very well. Still, it’s old. I would love to have a cool new car. About a year ago I heard about a very good deal for getting a new car. I was very tempted! But that’s when I learned that, given our living style, it’s actually better for the environment to keep our old car rather than buying a new one. On most days, my husband and I bike to work, and our kids take public buses to school. Further away from home, if there are buses available to where we’d like to go, we definitely prefer to maximize the use of our bus passes. Between a well-run, fuel-efficient car and alternative transportation, it would be hard to offset the carbon emissions generated from manufacturing and transporting a new car to us. So, we kept the old one for now. I’m sure someday when it has to be replaced, we’d do our research again to find the best car for us and for the environment.

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