If you live in a wealthy nation, most of my readers do, you are almost certainly a solid part of consumerist society. I live on a farm. We try and consume as little as possible, we grow and make and thrive without malls, but still, I am undeniably a consumer and waster. It is immensely hard to escape it. Here are some questions I ask that help me make the best consumer choices.
Do I really need it?
Gosh, what a hard one! Do I neeeeeed it? I can find myself to be quite convincing when there is something I want, but don’t perhaps need. I often find though, that giving myself a few days to sit on a purchase decision takes the shine away and I feel my urge disappear.
Can I make it?
Even if you don’t count yourself as crafty the internet is FULL of ways to make stuff from other stuff. I needed a cookie cutter once and instead of buying one I used some flat wire and made an awesome one! Check out Makezine for inspo.
Can I get it locally?
Do you have a Saturday or Sunday market? Save your purchases up and buy them locally, hopefully they will be handmade and have way less airmiles in them. I buy my wash cloths from an old lady at the market who knits them. No packaging, no miles, no money given to a bit supermarket corporate.
Can I get it made by people who I know aren’t being exploited?
Please do do a google search for your item with the word “fair trade” added in it. There are so many ethically made versions of things. Try TraidCraft for lots of things.
Can I buy it second hand?
Be patient, and persevere, and you could very well find exactly what you need, but from Gumtree of a charity shop. I am amazed at how I can buy whole Christmas lists secondhand.
Can I get a version that will last?
Do a bit of research, and perhaps spend a little more money, to buy something that will last. There are heaps of consumer forums and directories such as Interact that point the way.
Can I buy it through people who pay their tax?
Just quietely…. there are some big outlets out there, from whom you can buy anything, but who are a leeeeetle bit bad. Like, they don’t pay taxes. And I am a big fan of taxes! They are the only institutionalised method of redistribution we have! Opt for a better outlet to buy your stuff from.
Can I mitigate the excess waste?
Be inspired by the Zero Waste bunch who make almost all of their consumer choices dependant on how much waste it produces. I saw a blogpost of someone’s waste from last year year and it filled a glass jar. A GLASS JAR! I fill a glass jar when I sweep the kitchen floor! What is up with that? Amazing. I am inspired to choose things especially because they don;t come with all the packaging.
This post is a collaboration with Interact!.