How much of this stuff do we actually need to spend our hard earned money on?
Everyday we’re faced with consuming choices; to buy the pastry that’s tempting us in the bakery display case, to purchase the top that just went on sale, to pick up that new kitchen gadget that promises to make cooking easier.
When transitioning into a sustainable, zero-waste lifestyle, with your main focus being creating less waste, the easiest way to achieve that goal is to think about the purchases you make, and the necessity of them, before you consume.
We live in a world that has SO many resources available at our fingertips, but instead of using them wisely, we have created a horrible, disposable world of consuming.
Between buying unnecessary items, cheaply made products, and one-use wares, we’re not only wasting our money, but damaging the environment, and in-turn throwing away money on throw-away items.
Turning back the clock, our elderly relatives and ancestors would be appalled at how freely we spend today, and how we throw away useable items, and we ought to return back to some of the thrifty ways that society looked toward consumption not only just to save money, but to save the environment as well. Point being, if we are using the resources we already have, or consuming in a more ethical, made-to-last way, then collectively we will be producing less waste.
Using What You Have
Before making any purchase what-so-ever, take a look at what is already in your house. Do you really need another plain, black t-shirt? How many books at your house have still gone un-read? Can another one of your kitchen gadgets do the same thing as this trendier one?
There are so many times that I myself have gone to purchase something to realise that –
a) I already have the same exact item at home
b) I have an item that does the same job as the new one I want to purchase, or
c) the item I want to buy is something that I will find amusing for about five minutes.
Just by glancing through a mental inventory of your home can save many unnecessary goods coming into your house.
Mending and Up-Cycling
Repairing and making items new again is another big factor in being frugal and Earth-friendly. So many items in your home can be fixed and equally as many can be turned into something new.
Truly a lost art, mending is one way to drastically reduce your waste, and save you money. With the internet being a vast area of information, it only takes a quick Ecosia search to land you with videos on how to repair the hole in your jeans, or the button that’s come loose on your coat.
You can repair virtually anything from electronics, furniture, crockery, and bedding. It’s only a search away, and you’ll be saving money as well as giving your items a longer life.
Similarly, up-cycling is an option to look at before you consume more goods.
Have a pair of stockings that have ripped? They can be made into pony-tail holders.
Shirt has a stain? Look up ways to tie-dye.
Almost any item in your house that cannot be repaired can be up-cycled into something new rather than be lost to the bin.
Borrowing and Renting
One major resource that many people seem to overlook is borrowing objects.
Certain items are used so sparingly that we don’t need to purchase them, such as larger kitchen appliances or formal attire. If you have a close-knit family, discuss with them purchases that can be made as a family for the family to pass about.
Another fantastic resource is your local library – not only do they have numerous books and magazines on offer, but many have different forms of media, and sometimes crockery and tools on hand.
Otherwise, if you can’t borrow for free, borrow for a fee. You’ll still be creating less waste by renting as the item in need will be shared among numerous people, ultimately creating less demand for the object to be re-created, and less waste created by consuming.
Once you’ve realised that the item that you need has to be bought, your best bet is seeing if it’s available second-hand.
If you’re buying something thriftily, then you aren’t creating a demand for new items to be made, nor are you paying as much as you would if you bought it new. Sites like Gumtree, Freecycle, and local Op-Shops are your best bet for finding the item you’re after.
So many items can outlast our desire to have them, and you’ll find many objects through thrifting that meet your budget, too.
Buying Locally & Ethically
If you can’t find the item second-hand, then your next option is to purchase the item ‘new’. There are numerous, ethically based shops, ran by real and local people who are more than willing to sell you items that they fully back.
When you’re buying locally, you’re not supporting a massive company that doesn’t care about its employees, you’re supporting someone who has made tireless efforts of researching each and every product they sell to make sure it has been fairly sourced.
You’re supporting real, hard working folk, and you’re also supporting the people who make the goods, and the people who are fairly treating the labourers of the products.
Buying It To Last
Exhausted all the other alternatives? Then, sadly, your last option is to buy what you’re in need of from a non-ethical origin.
When making purchases from these sorts of sources, the essential thing to remember is to buy the item to last. When you’re not buying locally or ethically, you’re purchasing from a place that does not have the environment in mind when it comes to sourcing materials for the product, making the wares, or shipping the merchandise.
So, in order to make your carbon footprint as small as possible, make this purchase be a strong, built to last product.
Sometimes, purchasing a new item can be a daunting experience, especially if you’re seeking an expensive item… However, by following the flow of conscious consumerism, you’ll be able to find a way to make that new purchase whilst keeping frugality and eco-friendliness in mind.
Use what you have, mend and up-cycle, borrow and rent, buy second-hand, purchase locally and ethically, or buy it to last!