Rethinking Stuff: 4 Questions for Conscious Consumption

Rethinking Stuff: 4 Questions for Conscious Consumption

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One of a very powerful elements of dwelling extra sustainably is making the acutely aware determination to easily eat much less; working towards acutely aware consumption in different phrases.

Becoming a conscious consumer could seem disarmingly easy, however that doesn’t essentially imply that it’s all the time straightforward. Especially in a tradition the place we’re bombarded with commercials that inform us we’ll be happier, higher wanting, extra in style, more healthy, or smarter if we purchase a selected mission. Billion-dollar promoting budgets are aimed toward making us really feel like we want extra stuff.

Women walking past sale sign in window
Image courtesy of Gerard Stolk

Asking your self these 4 questions before you purchase one thing will assist align your actions together with your beliefs, and curb your environmental impression, too

1. Do I would like this?

Simple and efficient. Do you really want this merchandise? Is it a mud collector, a replica, or an impulse buy you’re prone to remorse and by no means use? Or is it a real want? Everyone’s definition of “want” shall be slightly completely different, however I sometimes default to the smart phrases of William Morris on this one, “If you need a golden rule that may match everyone, that is it: Have nothing in your homes that you simply have no idea to be helpful, or imagine to be lovely.”

If you do really want the merchandise, keep it up to the second query.

2. Can I make it?

Why help multinational companies when you can create one thing for your self? If you’ll be able to make one thing as an alternative of shopping for it, you’ve gotten full management over the substances, packaging, and efficacy of the product. Make artwork as an alternative of shopping for mass-produced prints, whip up your own body care products, or concoct your own cleaning solutions. With the complete web at your disposal, you will discover steerage on making any variety of issues.

If you can’t make it (and generally 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 it up 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 value? We are obsessive about possession, however for some objects that we’d use solely a couple of times a yr (tenting gear, occasion tents, meals dehydrators, and so forth), it would make higher monetary and environmental sense to pool your sources with a buddy or member of the family. Share the merchandise, halve your bills, and cut back the quantity of area in your house dedicated to storing issues. Win-win!

Alternately, hunt down a secondhand retailer, hit up your native Craigslist, or listing a request for what you want on Nextdoor. Buying secondhand saves cash, hits the pause button on the patron cycle, and in addition lets you higher consider how an merchandise will put on over time. A 50-year outdated 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 lastly,

4. Is 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 fact is, should you really want one thing, making the choice to spend money on a top quality, well-made piece of clothes, furnishings, or gear means you received’t end up shopping for it once more in a couple of weeks, months, or years. If you want sandals, search for stitched soles and pure supplies as an alternative of flimsy plastic flip flops. If you want a seaside umbrella, get the dearer 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 seem cumbersome and even annoying. But I discover they permit me to distill the method of consuming all the way down to its purest kind, slightly than that insatiable itch in fixed want of scratching.

Feature picture courtesy of Douglas Muth. Originally printed on November 20, 2014, this text was up to date in January 2022.