Preventing Waste: It Just Feels Good

Jacquelyn Ottman Posted by Jacquelyn Ottman.

Jacquelyn is the founder of J. Ottman Consulting, Inc., which helps businesses develop and market the next generation of products designed with sustainability in mind.

Preventing Waste: It Just Feels Good

You don’t need to be a tree hugger to feel good about preventing waste (image:

No one ever talks about preventing waste because it makes them feel good, so I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to talk about your feelings. In writing this story, I was surprised to discover how powerful of a motivator my feelings are in guiding how I act in the face of waste. In this journey into the depths of my psyche, I uncovered not one, but seven different feelings that surface when I recycle that soda can or tell the sales assistant to hold the plastic bag.


WHTW link to respect food tips 110414I feel proud of myself when I can creatively come up with ways to prevent waste – especially food waste because it saves me a lot of money! Living on my own, I have to find ways to make my groceries stretch further and use them up before they spoil. I always keep leftovers (even that half eaten sandwich from the deli) and find ways to incorporate underutilized food parts into my cooking like broccoli stalks, celery greens and carrot tops.


I feel satisfied when I complete tasks in the most efficient way. I view paper as unnecessary and inefficient, so I make use of technology to eliminate it. I use Evernote on my laptop to take notes and keep them neatly organized in labeled “notebooks”, and if I need to highlight or annotate a document, I use Adobe Reader instead of printing. In most cases, I find that switching behaviors to ones that are less wasteful are actually more efficient and organized ways of doing things – and that’s satisfying!


Beth Henderson showing off her KeepCup reusable coffee cup

My Keep Cup has become a valued possession that I enjoy using. (Image: Beth Henderson)


I love knowing that I have the power to prevent things from going to waste. It may be just one coffee cup or plastic bag on any given day, but it all adds up over the course of a lifetime. Not only that, but it also sends a message to the retailers that customers are concerned, so they should rethink their practices. I always carry a KeepCup, ChicoBag and Klean Kanteen water bottle in my handbag to be prepared for any potential waste creating situation.

Individuals should feel empowered knowing that they can make decisions multiple times every day that could prevent many resources from go to waste.


When I live according to my morals and values, I feel virtuous. Efficient use of resources and ethical treatment of animals are things I highly value, which is why I only consume meat rarely. When I make decisions that align with my values, I feel like I am becoming a better person.


I have discovered the joy in owning less but more meaningful stuff, and try to espouse this when I give gifts to others. I try to give really meaningful gifts — gifts so meaningful, that people would never throw them away, and this brings me great joy. I like to give gifts with personal touches that don’t use up a lot of resources, like a handmade card or photo frame, a memorable experience or a batch of nicely decorated cookies. People are always so touched and grateful for these kinds of gifts, which is a joy for me.


Image of a glue gun and a phone charger

Five minutes with a glue gun and my charger was fixed (Image: Beth Henderson)

Know the feeling when you finally crack a tough puzzle, find the answer to a difficult question or finish an expert Sudoku? That’s how I feel when I figure out a way to repair, reuse or repurpose something! I never give up on broken objects until I have attacked them with a hot glue gun. I completely ripped apart my phone charger once. Most people would have just bought another for $10, but I got creative with my $5 glue gun from Michael’s and now it still works perfectly. Solving problems like these always makes me feel a sense of accomplishment.


It is truly fulfilling to see other people adopt waste preventing behaviors because of me. I always try to inspire friends, family and housemates to recycle and carry reusables with them and they’ll often tell me with such excitement when they do something ‘green’ for the first time. I think they feel surprised at how easy these new behaviors are to make habits and that they actually feel good by doing them!

Preventing Waste Isn’t All About Saving Money and the Environment

email subscribe iconSo now that I’ve bared my soul to you, you can see that you don’t just have to want to hug trees or pinch pennies to want to prevent waste – you just have to want to feel good. And who doesn’t want that? I know that my reusable coffee cup isn’t going to single-handedly save the world, but I keep using it because preventing waste makes me feel better, live better, and might influence more people to prevent waste too!

Do you identify with any of these? Tell me how preventing waste makes you feel in the comments below.

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