Zero Waste Step #Bonus: Stay out of the Stores (aka “The Target Rule”)


This post is part of my “5 Steps to Zero Waste You Can Start NOW” series.

Non-consumption, or at least reduced consumption, is probably the third or fourth most effective lifestyle choice you can make in the name of Zero Waste.*  And simply staying out of stores goes a long way toward helping you keep that credit card in your wallet .  This is why, one year, I created a family Target rule.

Instead of going to Target** willy-nilly, I only allowed myself 4 visits a year.

But of course, that didn’t last.

So I upped that to once a month. And that is more than enough. Because the problem is, as many of you might know and the memes show, this:

Source:  I got it here.

Unless you are a dude, apparently:

Source:  Pinterest
No ticket, no Targey.

Since this is Zero Waste Mommy, I got the kids on board by putting the oldest in charge of the “Target cards.”  It’s July when I write this and I have six cards left for the year.  If I want to go to target, I have to get through this gatekeeper. 

Oh yes, we have done this. 

You know what?  It totally works.  It has even gotten my daughter on board the non-consumer train.  She has told me, in no uncertain terms, “Mommy, you can’t go to Target.  We’ve already gone this month.”  As long as they additionally understand WHY we don’t go to Target that often, I think we have a winner.

But, we haven’t completely fooled the want-monster of course. So to keep him fed, I also keep a running list of things I would buy if were suddenly released from shopping Purgatory. What else is this good for? Amazon (and Etsy), or the electronic versions of Target for many.  Instead of popping online every time you think you need something, try making a list instead.

Like a hardcopy-Amazon Wish List.  But without the targeted advertising. 

I keep this one in my day planner, as handy as you can get.  I do my best to hold off on buying things until I’m sure I need them.  If something stays on there for a bit of time, then I’ll venture out (or online) to get it.

But guess what?  Many times I find I CROSS STUFF OFF.  If I don’t buy it right away, sometimes I find I don’t ACTUALLY NEED it. 

Didn’t need those shorts
after all.

So if I can, at last, impart some experiential wisdom, forcing myself to wait on purchases and simply reducing my exposure to goods, isn’t the easiest form of conscious consumption I employ, but it has certainly saved me the most money.

*Limiting procreation, meat consumption, and motorized transport (individually owned automobiles and air travel, specifically) are the winners here. But, consider, of all the durable goods you’ve bought over the course of your life, how many were truly needed and/or truly adored? What a dent we could make in the production/waste cycle if we limited our consumption to Marie Condo-approved belongings. It’s harder to measure, but I believe reduced consumption should play a more prominent role in lists like the one I’ve linked here than vague references to “Reduce.”

**Target is an American discount store that sells household goods and groceries.

January 15, 2021

About Me

About Me

I’ve been passionate about combatting blind consumerism since 2008 and joined the Zero Waste movement by starting this blog in 2013, soon after my second child was born. I think it might have been trying to unwrap a toy or someone’s attempt to sell me a butt-wipe warmer that put me over the edge… read more



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