Day 21 – Stop the shopping?

Since I started this challenge, I’ve had a list of possible activities and habits that I’ve been adding to as I think of things and removing items as I adopt new habits and write about them. At the top of the list is the one habit that I knew I would have to do, but dreaded…maybe even more than not flushing the toilet to save water. Sustainable habit 21 – stop buying new consumer products. The reason I’ve been dreading it is that I’m not sure to what degree I’d like to take it – Do I stop buying new shoes? Can I still buy gifts for people? Do I just give up certain products? Do I refuse to buy anything new ever again?

This isn’t the only time I’ve faced the issue of how far is far enough? during this challenge. In fact, I’ve faced it pretty much anytime over the past few years that I’ve made my life more sustainable. There has to be a sensible sweet-spot between eco-warrior and hyper-consumer. The goal of this challenge has been to prove how easy it is to live in a more sustainable way by making eco-conscious decisions and by cutting back on the extras, the things that don’t add any real value to your life. Ideally, prove that it’s so easy and so rewarding that you’d be foolish not to join me in making your life more sustainable too…the challenge is making that argument without being a hypocrite for things like having a Keurig – I know they’re wasteful, but we got one as a gift and, quite frankly, it saved us when we had a newborn and company kept showing up and/or we hadn’t slept for days.

Which brings me to buying new consumer goods. I am going to be more deliberate about each of my purchases.

  • Do I really need it?
  • Can I get it used?
  • Does it have to be new? (I’m not buying used underwear, for example)
  • What is the most sustainable version I can get? (read: no more one cup coffee machines)

If I’m honest with myself, I’m pretty sure most of my purchases are going to be vetoed by simply asking if I really need it.

2 thoughts on “Day 21 – Stop the shopping?

  1. This is a particularly important sustainable action in my mind. When trying to work out how far to take it, you brought up a good point with – ‘can I still buy gifts for people?’. You might be interested to know that hubby and I did decide to go down this road. It’s an interesting subject to broach with family and friends. We were already in the fortunate situation where we only bought birthday presents for our closest friends and family, and only 1 present for family at Christmas time as a Kris Kringle. When I asked my friends how they felt about not exchanging gifts, they were totally fine with it. I think for most people, buying gifts is a real chore (especially when you have no idea what to buy them!). Our family at Christmas time was another story. We had the idea of still doing a Kris Kringle but making it a ‘re-gift’ – something you don’t use but could be great for someone else. Plus make a donation to charity. They were all for the idea initially but then 1 family member decided she didn’t want to change the way we did things. However I think it’s something we’ll be able to implement in the future. Because it horrifies me how much money and precious resources are wasted at Christmas time.

    • Congrats on cutting back on the Christmas insanity! It’s amazing how much money gets needlessly spent during the holidays. We had a lot of success giving most of our friends and family homemade gifts this past year (mostly jams and pickles, but I also made some kits with bath bombs and eye bean bags) they were a hit. In terms of giving gifts, I think I’ve settled on the rule that I will still have to buy some gifts, and that’s ok. I’m just going to limit those gifts to things that I know will have a long life cycle, get lots of use and be really appreciated. The funny thing about gifts, is that I’ve actually had more trouble convincing people not to buy gifts for us. I understood when family and friends wanted to buy things for our daughter, but I wasn’t expecting to be looked at as if I had two heads when I told my parents that I didn’t want any ‘things’ for my birthday this year. After discussing it, my mother offered to make me some handkerchiefs from material she already had…which I thought was a wonderful idea!

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