Everything has a footprint. Every item you purchase from clothing and food to electronics and cleaning supplies has a footprint and impact on our planet. Even sustainably made items have a footprint. No matter how you look at it, the item you want to purchase had to be sourced, manufactured, and transported to get to you.
And overconsumption is one of the biggest causes of waste. The more we consume, the more waste we produce. This is why it’s incredibly important to be mindful of the things we’re purchasing if we’re looking to live more sustainably.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before making a purchase:
1. Do I have something similar?
This is one of the main questions I ask myself when it comes to clothing but it can apply to other things as well. Most times we don’t need multiples of things or more than one thing that serves the same purpose. I mean, how many pairs of blue jeans can you own? If you own something similar, you probably don’t need another one.
2. Can this be used/styled more than one way?
Let me tell you: there is no point in buying an outfit that you’ll only wear once. Or a product that you’ll only use once. How we keep things out of landfills is by using them to their fullest ability. This isn’t just referring to single-use items but also items that you may purchase because you think it looks cool or it’s trendy but won’t actually be useful in the long run.
3. Would I buy this if it wasn’t on sale?
Sale items can really add up. A good question to ask yourself is if you would pay full price for the item? If not, then you probably don’t need it and you should just put it back. Sales are often how stores and brands will market something at a need. And if you need an item that’s on sale, then great! But often we tend t buy things just because it’s a good sale price.
4. Do I really even want it?
The problem with fast fashion is that it’s entirely trend-driven and trends change every week. And these trends can really influence our purchasing habits. We end up buying things that we’d never normally wear or use but we want to be trendy. This doesn’t just apply to clothing but everything. Over the pandemic, air fryers became a really big trend. And while I love mine, it’s because it fits into my lifestyle and I use it almost daily. If you’re someone who wouldn’t use it that often, it would be a waste and a trend-driven purchase.
5. Could I borrow it or find it secondhand?
The number one way I shop is by thrifting. So if there’s something I need or want, that’s the first place I’ll look. Often I’ll have luck but sometimes I won’t. Then I try to see if I know anyone who has this item who would be willing to borrow it from me. If the answer is no then I will make a new purchase. I think this is a good rule of thumb as both thrifting and borrowing help us create a more circular economy. It’s definitely something to consider before making a new purchase.
Take it from someone who used to be a shopaholic and hyper-consumer. There is a better and easier way to help save the planet. The best place the start is with your purchases. And it won’t cost you a thing.
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