My life has been busy lately. My guess is so has yours. Presumably we are both busy about important meaningful responsibilities. That makes searching for convenient, quicker ways to do things attractive. I get that and I’m a consumer of convenience – to a point.

But then there is the dilemma that conscientious consumers face when trying to also live lightly:
• When do I pay more for convenience?
• What is the ecological cost of convenience food, transportation, and outsourcing tasks such as cleaning and repairs?
It all comes down to yogurt and diapers. Well, not really, but consider these two examples:

Yogurt: Yogurt (and like products) usually come in #5 containers. Our curbside recycling does not accept #5s, BUT Whole Foods does – or at least it did until I saw an email saying that they were cutting back on accepting recyclables. What to do? Should I stop buying yogurt? I decided I didn’t need the yogurt with fruit in it. That reduces some. We used to make our own yogurt at home and still have the yogurt maker, but that takes time and is inconvenient. Should I choose convenience or make my own. Solution: Disaster averted. I called Whole Foods and found that they are eliminating accepting all recyclables except #5s.

Disposable Diapers: While this example will not apply to those beyond the early parenting years, the principle applies to everyone. Hold on. Back in ancient history, when disposable diapers were just invented, we used the standard cloth diapers for our 4 children. At home it wasn’t a big deal since it was only one extra load of wash a week. We defaulted to disposable diapers for the diaper bag and especially when traveling or camping. Eventually, we realized that it really was no extra trouble to keep a plastic bag in the diaper bag for day trips. We still made exceptions for longer or camping trips. Not only are they reusable and lasted for several children, when timeworn they make great rags for cleaning instead of paper towels. Since disposable diapers are now the default diaper, however, modern parents do not usually consider this alternative.
Principle: What convenience food, service, or travel do you automatically consume? Think:
• Eating less meat or meals out,
• Turning the thermostat up or down rather than putting on or taking off a sweater,
• Bringing a cloth bag to a store barely takes any more time than accepting a plastic one.
• Walking or biking to do close errands. (Count it as exercise and save a trip to the gym.)
Most of these actions are simply a matter of creating a new habit.

How have you reconciled expense or time vs convenience? What has worked? What has flopped? Curious minds want to know.