Sometimes the thought of moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle can be daunting. The thought of having to buy a bunch of expensive products or constantly think about what choices to make in the supermarket. Well here are just a few suggestions to get you started without having to fork out your life savings.
1) If you see something you need, don’t buy it…. today.
If you see something online, in a shop or maybe on someone you see walking down the street and go “Oh my goodness, I NEED THAT!”, that’s because we are taught to compare ourselves and our possessions to other people in a capitalist society. It takes a long time (or maybe never) to train your brain to stop this immediate reaction. I often take myself out of the situation and tell myself Okay, take a few days to decide if it’s something you really need., if I decide that’s it’s something I actually need I’ll do some research to find a sustainable/ethically made version, but more often than not, I simply forget about it. This shows that so often we mistake Want for Need, and when we take a step back we realise it was never important to us to begin with.
2) Repair over replace
It’s become very commonplace in today’s society to replace something as soon as it’s broken such as tech, clothing and accessories. Oftentimes, we replace these items with exactly the same product because we love it but it simply did not last. However, repairing broken items is a more sustainable option as opposed to buying new. This may be as simple as watching a YouTube video to learn how to mend or hem or resew a button onto a much loved shirt. Sometimes there may be a cost to getting items fixed if you’re not comfortable mending it yourself without breaking it further, such as taking a pair of jeans to a tailor because they are no longer the right size or the seam has come apart, or maybe getting the sole mended on a pair of shoes. If the product is no longer functional then it may be time to start looking into a sustainably produced alternative however the most ethical option will always be Make Do and Mend.
3) Sometimes getting by is enough
Planned Obsolescence is “a policy of producing consumer goods that rapidly become obsolete and so require replacing” (lexico.com). This happens so often in our society; we are almost forced into buying a brand new product because the one we already have is no longer functional (it is very common with technology). Occasionally needing a new product is unavoidable, for example, if spare parts are no longer produced or system updates are no longer accepted on your device. Of course, if these products are absolutely necessary to you for work or otherwise then you may have no choice. But think about this, do you really need a new phone simply because you’ve paid off your contract, or because the camera quality isn’t as good as you’d like? Do your WiFi speakers need to be able to switch lights on and off without having to do it yourself? For the majority I would imagine the answer to those questions would be no. This is again a case of deciding whether a product is essential to you, or simply something you want to own. If it is necessary, check older brand reviews to see if people have updated their opinion after owning it for few months or years.
The truth of the matter here is, the most sustainable (and cost effective) product available is the one you already own. That pair of winter boots where the laces have become frayed, the towel in your bathroom that isn’t quite as white as it once was, the reusable water bottle that’s made of plastic instead of steel or glass (the list goes on) are all still usable products. No matter how new a product you own is, there’s always going to be something better suited to your needs as we live in a society of convenience. Convenience can be brilliant for accessibility and has done wonders for people all over the world that have previously been unable to get by on their own in some circumstances, but again these products are essential. If it is not essential to you, the sustainable option would be not to purchase it.