Woo-hoo!  Our first Suburban Smackdown Featured Family experience!  Up until today, you have only heard from the Hitch and Taylor families as to how we are incorporating the Suburban Smackdown into our lives and how our two families are adjusting to the life of extremely mindful consumerism.  Rather than hearing just from us and what our experiences have been (because we might be slightly biased), we thought it might be more impactful to hear from our readers who have decided to take on the challenge of the Suburban Smackdown in their own family.  Our readers have the ability to customize the Suburban Smackdown so that it meets them where they are on the “consumification” spectrum but ultimately challenges them to reduce their current consumption habits.  The Herzels have not only completed two full months (not consecutively, but that’s okay!) of the Suburban Smackdown, but they have modified it so that it is a model that can realistically be sustained for a lifetime.  How cool is that for our very first featured family?!  Click here if you would like to be a featured individual/family and continue reading to hear about the Herzel’s Smackdown experience.

Meet Tiffany (mom), Eric (Dad) and Kate (the adorable 2 1/2 year old).  The Herzels live just outside lovely Birmingham, Alabama.

How did your family participate in the Suburban Smackdown?

“We started with one month of the Suburban Smackdown and after that month we decided to institute a lifetime of the Suburban Smackdown instead of just six months.  We realized we would need to buy necessities at some  point so we decided to do one month on and one month off, without stocking up and only buying absolute necessities during our off-months.  Instead of buying new during our off-months, we shop secondhand as much as possible and rely quite a bit on hand-me-downs.  We also try to purchase higher quality items, which might be more expensive, but last much longer therefore reducing our overall consumption.” 

What is one example of how the Suburban Smackdown influenced a typical buying decision for the better? 

“Overall, I pass by Target, Walgreens and the like without even the thought of going in.  I’ve learned to always go through our clothes before buying new for the season and as mentioned above, buying higher quality items that will last longer.  For my parents’s birthdays, I’ve always bought them a material gift, which was so hard because they have everything.  This year, for my dad’s birthday, we cleaned out some dusty tarps that have been sitting in the vacant house they are selling so that he would not have to take on this task which would irritate his asthma.  He said it was the best present we could have given him!” 

What was your biggest takeaway?

“We have three!  The biggest takeaway is the positive feeling of helping the environment and using less disposable items, including storage baggies, etc.  A very close second and unexpected surprise is the time-savings.  I am not only passing by stores, but deleting store emails and eliminating clutter from my inbox and closet.  I’m using the time saved to focus on reading emails, articles and blogs that are self-improvement based and fostering friendships that were just always waiting for me to just set up the lunch date.  Our third takeaway is the more clear distinction between wants versus needs.”

Has the Suburban Smackdown encouraged your family to make any changes in your consumption behaviors moving forward? 

“We were so pleasantly surprised with how easy it really was and for some reason it just made us feel happier.  We decided to live the Suburban Smackdown every other month for a lifetime.  We have enough clothes probably because we have typically bought classic items.  To make the Smackdown sustainable and realistic, I made the exception that I could buy a new shirt every six months.  I LOVE the MY ECO Reusable shopping bags and mesh produce bags on Spunky Avocado’s site.  The Smackdown has inspired me to watch eco-documentaries like Bag It, which I highly recommend.  As for Christmas this year, the adults (including my parents) decided to buy only one Christmas gift for each other instead of the usual many different gifts.”

What advice would you offer to others who are considering trying the Suburban Smackdown in their own families?

“Thinking about trying the Suburban Smackdown is much harder than actually doing the Suburban Smackdown.  Stop wondering if you can do it and just jump right in.  Trying the Suburban Smackdown for even just a little while is better than not trying at all.  You’ve got this.”

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