One of the vital essential features of dwelling extra sustainably is making the aware choice to easily devour much less; training aware consumption in different phrases.
Turning into a aware client could appear disarmingly easy, however that doesn’t essentially imply that it’s all the time straightforward. Particularly in a tradition the place we’re bombarded with commercials that inform us we’ll be happier, higher wanting, extra fashionable, more healthy, or smarter if we purchase a particular undertaking. Billion-dollar promoting budgets are geared toward making us really feel like we’d like extra stuff.
Asking your self these 4 questions before you purchase one thing will assist align your actions together with your beliefs, and curb your environmental affect, too
1. Do I want this?
Easy and efficient. Do you really want this merchandise? Is it a mud collector, a reproduction, or an impulse buy you’re prone to remorse and by no means use? Or is it a real want? Everybody’s definition of “want” will likely be slightly completely different, however I usually default to the smart phrases of William Morris on this one, “If you’d like a golden rule that may match all people, that is it: Don’t have anything in your homes that you just have no idea to be helpful, or consider to be stunning.”
If you happen to do really want the merchandise, keep on to the second query.
2. Can I make it?
Why help multinational firms when you may create one thing for your self? If you’ll be able to make one thing as an alternative of shopping for it, you could have full management over the elements, packaging, and efficacy of the product. Make artwork as an alternative of shopping for mass-produced prints, whip up your individual physique care merchandise, or concoct your individual cleansing options. With your entire web at your disposal, you will discover steerage on making any variety of issues.
If you happen to can’t make it (and typically this would be the case as a result of, let’s face it, I’ll in all probability by no means be a cobbler), keep on to quantity three.
3. Can I borrow it, or purchase it secondhand?
Why purchase when you’ll be able to borrow? And why purchase new when you will discover it gently used for half the worth? We’re obsessive about possession, however for some gadgets that we’d use solely a couple of times a yr (tenting tools, occasion tents, meals dehydrators, and so forth), it’d make higher monetary and environmental sense to pool your assets with a buddy or member of the family. Share the merchandise, halve your bills, and cut back the quantity of house in your house dedicated to storing issues. Win-win!
Alternately, search out a secondhand retailer, hit up your native Craigslist, or record a request for what you want on Nextdoor. Shopping for secondhand saves cash, hits the pause button on the buyer cycle, and in addition permits you to higher consider how an merchandise will put on over time. A 50-year previous wooden desk that’s nonetheless stable and gleaming after many years of use will all the time be a greater funding than its big-box retailer particleboard counterpart.
And at last,
4. Is that this the greatest high quality I can afford?
This query runs counter to all of our instincts in North American society, the place we chase offers with the fervor of fanatics. The reality is, if you happen to really want one thing, making the choice to spend money on a top quality, well-made piece of clothes, furnishings, or tools means you gained’t end up shopping for it once more in a couple of weeks, months, or years. If you happen to want sandals, search for stitched soles and pure supplies as an alternative of flimsy plastic flip flops. If you happen to want a seashore umbrella, get the costlier one made with wooden or metallic as an alternative of plastic. Make it a behavior to prioritize high quality over worth.
At first, these questions could appear cumbersome and even annoying. However I discover they permit me to distill the method of consuming right down to its purest kind, quite than that insatiable itch in fixed want of scratching.
Characteristic picture courtesy of Douglas Muth. Initially printed on November 20, 2014, this text was up to date in January 2022.