I enjoy Mother Nature Network. I scan the articles, peruse the photo collections, compare the graphics, and more. Sometimes I see inspiration for changes in my own life. My family and I tend more toward the locavore than the globavore, as illustrated in this graphic. I do buy organic and free trade coffee from outside the local range – it doesn’t grow here – but I like to buy it from small grocers or local delis whenever I can. We grow quite a few vegetables in the backyard, and we buy a lot of produce from the downtown farmers’ markets. All of this improves the quality of our diet and our carbon footprint.
The piece I saw this week was a list of questions to help make purchasing decisions. Instead of mindless consumerism and buy-buy-buy, asking these questions can point a consumer in a different direction. My friend Green Girl commented that “No one leaves the Farmers’ Market with buyer’s remorse,” and I agree. But regular stores? That kind of remorse is more likely. Check out the list below.
1. Is this purchase something I need? Need, not want. There’s a difference.
Do I already own something that will serve the same purpose? Example: clothing. I don’t need a new pair of jeans. I need to wear out the jeans I already own. I’ll let you go on, readers, without my interjections.
3. Can I borrow one instead of buying new?
4. Can I make something that will serve the same purpose?
5. Can I buy a used one?
6. Would someone be willing to split the cost and share this with me?
7. Can I buy or commission one made locally?
8. Can I buy one that was made with environmentally responsible materials?
9. Can I buy one that serves more than one purpose?
10. Can I get something human powered instead of gas or electric?
11. Can I compost or recycle it when I’m done with it?
12. What is the impact on the environment of the full life cycle of it?
13. Does the manufacture or disposal of it damage the environment?
If the answers to these questions still suggest making a purchase, the buyers will know that their money will go toward valuing our environment rather than spoiling or damaging the natural world. I wonder – if I copied this list into my tiny purse notebook, could I avoid spending money unnecessarily? Probably. Could I make a more positive impact or at least a lesser impact on my home planet? Likely. I tell myself that I limit my consumption in a lot of ways. This list reminds me that I can do better.
Readers, which question is the hardest to answer? For me it’s number 13. I find it difficult to do the research involved in answering questions about the manufacture or disposal of commercial items. How about you?