How to Stop Buying Stuff
One of the first things I did to live a more sustainable lifestyle was to stop buying stuff. If you’ve read my blog post on 14 Ways to Live More Sustainably, you’ll noticed it is at the top of the list. To me this is the first step of sustainable/zero waste living.
How Did We Get Into This Mess?
How did we become accustomed to buying so much stuff and feeling the need to continually consume? The short answer is marketing.
We have it ingrained into our minds that we need things to be happy. Marketing tells us we won’t be happy unless we buy this, that or the other. Or they make us think that we are being left behind if we don’t buy their new thing because everyone else has it and we grow up believing these things and continue living this way during our adult lives. They tap into our emotions and use them to make us believe that their product will fix our problems. When the reality is it only makes things worse. It borders on emotional blackmail.
If we look at the truth, we buy stuff to feel better and it does make us feel better for a short period of time. Here lies the problem. The feelings are only short lived and so we feel we need to buy another thing to make us happy again, and so it continues. Before we realise it we have a house full of stuff that we don’t need or use.
What Are The Consequences
Unfortunately, buying loads of stuff we don’t need has a big impact on the environment. It continues to use up our earths precious resources, it pollutes the air, the water and the soil and leaves more waste in our landfills.
It tells companies that we still want them to keep producing stuff and unfortunately most of it is cheap, easily disposable items made from non biodegradable materials. In turn companies continue to burn fossil fuels, mine for materials and dispose of waste into our waters.
Once we realise we don’t actually want the item anymore, they end up in landfill or our water where they continue to pollute the environment by leaking toxins into the water and soil.
We really need to come together to do something about this and the best way is to stop telling those big corporations that we want their stuff.
Does This Mean We Can’t Buy Anything?
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t or can’t buy anything at all rather that we need to go about it a different way. We need to analyse our behaviour and really consider why we are buying something and be mindful of the impact our actions are having.
So let’s get down to it!
How to Stop Buying Unnecessary Things
The fact that you’re here reading this means you want to stop buying things and that you probably know about everything I’ve mentioned above already. That is the first step!
The second thing to do is to really appreciate the value of everything. To really understand how much energy and labour goes into making something, only then will we truly be grateful for everything we already have and not buy so carelessly. How much time and energy does it take? Where does it come from? What resources are used? etc
Then before I buy anything, I like to ask a few questions first.
Do I Actually Need It?
Is it something that I just want or do I actually need it? Consider the answer and then wait a while. A week, 2 weeks, a month and then re-evaluate this question. Do I still need it? If the answer is yes, move to question 2.
Do I Already Have One I Can Fix?
Is there one already available to me that I can try and fix or ask/pay someone to fix for me? For example, if it’s a pair of shoes, can I take them to the cobblers to fix the problem? If the answer is no, move to question 3.
Can I Get It Second Hand?
Once I’ve decided I actually need something and I don’t have one I can fix, I always try and find it second hand first. Search on local buy nothing groups, FB marketplace and local charity shops. I sometimes find that they have exactly what I’m looking for.
If Not, Can I Make It Myself?
Is it something I have the skill to make? Or can I find instructions online on how to make it? Maybe you can sew, knit/crochet or are good with woodworking? Maybe you can make whatever it is you need instead of buying.
Is the Company Ethical and Sustainable?
If after all the above questions, I still need to buy something then I always try and find it from an ethical, sustainable company who I know works with our wonderful earth and not against it. These good companies need our support.
Research the company you are thinking to buy from. Where do their materials come from? Do they treat their staff well and pay fairly? How transparent are they about how they work? Make sure you are happy with their ethics before supporting them.
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