Throughout history, humans have always collected stuff. However, instead of collecting, we’ve now become obsessed with “buying”. New cellphones every two years, new cars, fast fashion, takeaways, travel… Our desire to consume seems to have no end. And consequently, the amount of otherwise-useful items that end up in our landfills, and our environment never ends either!
Pledge #2 of the 28 Day Challenge is reducing your environmental impact by making wise purchasing decisions instead of feeding the need to “buy, buy, buy!”
What can I do?
Ultimately, you can pledge to buy a lot less stuff, especially disposable items. Not only does this save you plenty of cash, but it also saves you on time – the most valuable commodity of all.
Pledge #2 is simple – do whatever you can to buy less stuff!
There are some golden questions to ask yourself before you purchase anything. These questions not only achieve a simple mindset change but will get you started on your way to buying less stuff:
- Do I actually need this new item?
- If I’m replacing something, what was really wrong with it?
- If I’m upgrading, could it wait a while longer?
- Could I borrow/rent it instead?
- Do I need a brand new full-price item, or could I buy a second-hand item for less?
- How will I dispose of this item when the time comes, and how will I dispose of the old one I am replacing?
You’ll often find that the simple process of thinking through your shopping list, or doing online research about a product before buying it, not only helps you end up with better deals – but also assists you to make better buying decisions in the long run.
Why does it matter?
The rise in the consumerist culture, unfortunately, goes hand-in-hand with the overconsumption of our planet’s resources and the creation of waste that is beyond our capacity to deal with. While increased consumption has an “up” side (people are having their needs met and jobs are being created), excessive overconsumption is wreaking havoc on our natural world. The fact is that all the energy, raw materials, labour, transport, etc. that went into that product needs to be duplicated with every new iteration.
Right now, plastic is a $522 billion industry – and production is expected to double by 2040. We’re already struggling to cope, and things are only going to get worse if we don’t curb our consumption. Fortunately, as the below image from The Pew Charitable Trusts highlights, we can make a positive impact in tackling overconsumption. It is a simple as reducing the amount of plastic we consume and investing in alternative technologies instead!
Studies have also found that people who make a conscious effort to buy less stuff, seem to be happier individuals – and we all need a little more happiness right now!
Myth-busting: Being sustainable means I can’t buy nice things
Not at all! Sustainability doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with trends, or that you can only have old outdated gadgets. On the contrary, becoming more sustainable means making more informed purchasing decisions. It means becoming conscious of our tendencies to continuously consume.
By all means, get that new cellphone! But ask yourself if the new one really is that much better, or if your current one can serve its purpose for another year. Want a new look for your living room? Go for it! But maybe re-think spending your money on quality items that build your personal sense of style (and which last longer), rather than going more often for the cheap plastic knick-knacks.
Who can I follow?
If you’re looking for inspiration on buying less junk or help on what is of better quality, start by following users or reviewers of those products on channels like YouTube. By following reviewers rather than mainstream advertising (designed to make us want to buy more), you’ll find that you become better informed resulting in choices that lead to greater satisfaction in the long run. Overall, it means better quality and less wastage.
What is really hot and happening right now is the concept of The Circular Economy. Watch the below explanation by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation who have made incredible strides in working with large brands and retailers to shift towards a circular model.
Also, have a listen to Ellen MacArthur on the benefits of a more circular model from an economical perspective. Even though these changes are not yet present in all industries, it will help you quickly identify simple ways that you can circularise your own consumption. Whether this means passing down that old ski suit, to recycling glass or your old cellphone.