Recently I’ve been wondering about buying stuff that isn’t on sale. Well, in reality I almost never buy anything for myself that has a full price tag attached; with kids is a different story and we buy what they need.
However, I started questioning this habit of mine and begun asking myself if I need to buy something/anything at all, regardless if it’s on sale or not.
I’ve been trying to cut down on unsustainable (anything I don’t need because I have enough) wasteful (at the moment I’m fighting plastic) spending and purchases for nearly a year. However, I only seriously committed to replacing disposable items in my bathroom, kitchen and household this year (2021).
Since I started my journey, I realised that asking myself why I’m buying something before paying for it is an essential part of the process of trying to lead a more sustainable life that also happens to lead towards quicker financial independence, as less money is wasted on things that “only” cost £10 and can easily be tossed away if not used/needed any longer.
Since sustainability and implementing a circular economy is what I’m going to focus my life towards and stick with it for the rest of my life (total and complete change and re-design of my lifestyle), I need to be very mindful and very specific when it comes to purchasing. I need to ask questions instead of letting my emotions, pressure (marketing tricks that I know too well but often fall for) make decisions for me.
If I buy something, I don’t need, what I am going to do with that item? Can I re-sell it? I think that the re-selling market is currently over-saturated, and it has become pretty hard to sell anything. If I don’t use the item, will I give it away to a charity or a friend? Would a charity be able to sell it? If not, what will they do with it? Many items charities cannot sell because of the quality, lack of floor space, changing shopping habits, etc. Can I find a friend that may have use of the item I’m trying to pass on? If I cannot find anyone, what will I do with it?
Asking questions while shopping needs to become my second nature because if I buy what I don’t need and cannot get rid of, that item will either have to stay with me for the rest of my life or will be sent to a landfill in the worst-case scenario. I would recommend watching WALL-E for a simple visual representation of what happens to shit that we buy too much off.
The unwanted items we buy, just because the price is small or because it’s an impulse or rather pressure, will lead to the following:
- Clutter – physical clutter creates emotional clutter preventing people from making decisions, moving on with their lives or following their dreams. The clutter clouds their vision, destroys emotional well-being, and pushes towards debt to keep up with the Joneses.
- Pollution – the more we buy what we don’t need and have no use for, the more pollution we will be responsible for. Our purchase decisions sent a signal to the producers that there is a market for their products. If we don’t buy what we don’t need, the producers will have to re-focus on the sustainability of their items and circular economy model to create new revenue streams, if they are to survive. Buying used and second-hand gives new life to the unwanted/unneeded items and doesn’t send money to the corporations, while giving them a clear signal that customers want and expect change.
- Debts – owning stuff and upgrading a lifestyle (inflating it) is expensive and often leads to debt accumulation. We all know how hard it is to pay off a credit card, even with a small balance to clear. Not buying what we don’t need will help with accumulating an emergency stash and significantly reduce levels of stress people experience when the unpaid debt is piling up.
I think it’s a good and positive sign that, as a society, we are slowly turning towards conscious consumerism. Asking questions such as:
- Where is this product coming from?
- How long do I have to work to pay for it?
- Is it worth adding five years to my working life to have a new fancy car that I hardly use?
can only help the process of de-consuming our life.
Compulsive consumerism fuelled by low prices (it used to be just winter and summer sale and now the sale is all year long) is one of the leading causes people never become financially independent, never brave enough to follow their dreams because they always have debts to pay off and only see money as a commodity that needs to be spent, not a road towards freedom. I used to be one of those people.
Suppose we stop comparing ourselves to others and stop accommodating the excessive lifestyle stress and pressure. In such case, we may find that being genuinely free without worrying about money and job security is what life should truly be all about.