Reality Check: The Value of Reducing Waste

Last column, I suggested that being aware of your values can help you make choices that lead you toward the life that you want. We looked at the value of persistence; now let’s look at the value of “reducing waste.”

Reducing waste is pretty popular nowadays, with folks washing out their yogurt containers, recycling their flyers, and composting their coffee grounds.

If you are a Nova Scotian of a certain age and upbringing, you will remember when everything was used, reused, or made over. Whether you called it frugality or practicality, the reality was using leftovers for soups, suttles for mats, yarn-ends for mittens.

So, if you are one of the many folks with a longstanding dislike of waste, then I’m sure that this value continues to influence your decisions today.

However, waste isn’t limited to what goes in a garbage bag. How you handle these other kinds of wastes can have a greater impact on your life than what you do with your potato peelings.

Among these other wastes are waste of time, waste of money, and waste of human potential.

For example, it’s the value of reducing wasted time that has you making a list before you go shopping. That value has you combine errands so you don’t have to keep running back and forth. And keeping your keys in the same spot saves time wasted searching for them. 

Take a look at reducing wasted money. That’s the value that has you buying a set of wooden blocks to last for generations rather than a plastic toy that will break or become tiresome in days or weeks.

While those wastes are important, there is an even greater waste that you may not have thought of before. In John Maxwell’s book, “Make Today Count,” he states one of his values: “To develop my potential to the best of my ability.” That’s placing a high value on reducing waste—the waste of unrealized human potential.

Many folks have a gut feeling that they have been put on earth for a purpose, but can’t quite figure out what that purpose is. That unsettled feeling may be coming from the suspicion that you are not fulfilling your potential.

Perhaps you are intended to have one specific purpose; perhaps not. The “choice” in choice theory implies that it’s by our own choices—our free will—that we make either a satisfying life or one that’s not so satisfying.

So if you place a high value on reducing waste, then take some time to consider: What are my strengths? What do I want to achieve in my life?  What’s my purpose?

Remember that achievement is not all about career. Raising children, being a friend, caring for others, are all achievements. It’s your purpose; your life; your choice.

The value of reducing wasted potential can get you studying instead of snoozing. It can have you developing new skills, and persisting instead of giving in to, “I can’t.”

Is reducing waste of time, money, and potential important to you? Do you place a high value on reducing waste?

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