Conscious Consumption, One Planet Living

One Planet Buying – Conscious Consumption

This month’s focus for One Planet Living, is One Planet Buying, and I introduced it in last week’s post.
Now it’s time to start to get into the nitty gritty of One Planet Buying – what can we do as individuals and as families, to make sure that the our consumption doesn’t exceed the resource constraints of the planet.
For me, this boils down to being more thoughtful and deliberate about the things we buy.
Thinking whether we really need or want the thing (I wrote a post last year about Need Vs Want after seeing an advert in a shop window with the hashtag #ineeditbecause) is probably a good first step. So many times we buy things without really thinking about it. It’s why Ikea make you walk through the Marketplace before you get to the tills, and it’s why Lidl sell waffle makers. You go in for one thing, be it a bookcase or a pint of milk, and you come out with all kinds of ‘amazing things’ you never even knew you wanted!

Once you’ve decided that you really do need or want whatever is, then this is where you can start to get really creative.
This ‘Buyerarchy of needs’ from last week’s post is a really good starting place:

Can you ‘Make Do’ with something you already have?
We’ve spent a whole month already discussing ‘Making Do’ (the posts are here if you missed them), and I think it’s safe to assume that in a lot of cases, yes we probably can all do bit more ‘Making Do’.

Can you borrow it?
The ‘sharing economy’ has really taken off over the last few years, and now libraries aren’t just for books!
Things like Tool Libraries and Share Shops, while still not commonplace, are becoming a ‘thing’ and are really starting to change the way we view ownership and ‘stuff”. And with statistics like the average drill being used for only 12 minutes over it’s entire lifetime, it’s easy to see why borrowing stuff can make a whole lot more sense than buying it.

Can you swap?
How about a good old fashioned barter? What skills or things do you have that someone else might need? It doesn’t even have to be like for like, you can swap an evening’s babysitting for the use of someone’s drill (see above!), or a jar of homemade jam for a stair-gate that someone no longer needs.
And then there’s swishing…

The dictionary definition of thrift is “using money and other resources carefully”, which is kind of encompasses the whole One Planet Living thing, but I think in this context it means shopping secondhand.
Given that this whole blog started when we spent a year buying nothing new, I’ve written quite a bit about finding the things you need ‘pre-loved’ and I’ll signpost some useful resources later on this month.

Can you MIY (make it yourself!)?
Making your own, whether it’s food, clothes, presents or even deodorant, is an empowering thing to do. I like to think of it as one of my acts of quiet rebellion – turning my back on mass produced stuff, and choosing instead to create my own version, where I know what’s in it, and who made it (me!).

Can you Mend it?
I’m going to sneak Mending in here. In fact, I think it really should come lower down (or is that higher up?) in that we should attempt to fix our broken things before we think about borrowing, swapping, thrifting another one. I see mending as a form of activism, saying ‘no’ to all those adverts and messages that urge us to replace and upgrade, spending time really making things better. It’s a very powerful act.
I won’t really touch much more on mending during this month of One Planet Buying, as we have a whole month of mending coming up in May, so stay tuned!

And that brings us to the Buying part of One Planet Buying!
This is last in the ‘buyerarchy’ and I guess a kind of last resort when we’ve exhausted all other options. But that doesn’t let us off the hook to dash out (or hit the inter web) and buy whatever we fancy willy nilly. We still have a responsibility to make the best choice we can. We still need to be mindful of who made it, what it’s made from, and what we’re going to do with it when we longer want it. Is there an organic option or a fair-trade one? Buying might be a last resort for the conscious consumer, but it can still be a world changing act when it’s done with thought and intention.

I’m going to try and squeeze in a blog post on each of these layers of the Buyerarchy throughout February, signposting useful resources and links and highlighting organisations doing great things – be sure to check back so you don’t miss out, or alternatively sign up to the newsletter where I’ll be rounding everything up at the end of the month.
If you want some support, accountability or inspiration for your own month of One Planet Buying, then do pop over to the Facebook group – we have a dedicated “event” for everyone who is joining in, and it’s a brilliant community full of like-minded souls!


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  • Reply Carol in CT February 7, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    I recently identified a need: the $40 poly fill comforter that I bought over 4 years ago is getting quite ratty. The outer cloth was spotted, a kid had gotten paint on it (won’t come off), etc. I started by pricing new comforters at the discount shops. Most were from China, made of polyester outer cloth. I wished to buy American, and 100% cotton, ideally in a solid lavender color. I could get a designer one for several hundreds of dollars-far out of my budget. Ultimately, I decided upon a duvet cover, which are difficult to find here, but would allow me to continue to use the 4 year old comforter, just “refreshed”. Most were of cheap, woven polyester and from China-as were the comforters that I looked at. In the end, I found one in the color I wanted, American made, 100% cotton. I was able to combine a sale with additional discount vouchers, bringing the final cost, with tax, to about $89. I didn’t settle for the first, cheaply made or cheapest thing available. In the end, I remain happy with the purchase, which was cheaper than sewing a duvet myself. Fabric here is expensive and more and more often, it’s sourced from China. : (

    • Reply Jen March 16, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      Well done for persevering Carol! Sometimes it can feel really hard to do the right thing!

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