Shop for Need Instead of Greed

June 16, 2016

Shopping – don’t we all just love it?

If we do an inventory of all the clothing we posses or the products in our houses, we’ll find items we can’t live without, products that served us for some period of time, and items we’ve never ever used.

Consumerism is trending these days, which makes impulse buying as easy as clicking a button. I bet you love Amazon and Amazon loves you. I know this is true for me. Technology has evolved to the point where you are being advertised items that you feel like you absolutely need, due to advanced algorithms and recommendations.

Despite all of the joys of consumerism, it can be harmful to other aspects of society. According to The World Counts, consumerism is depleting the world’s natural resources.

The organization also highlighted that we would need about 5 planets full of resources to satisfy our consumption needs in America. The global population of the world is expected to reach 7.7 billion by 2020 and 8.6 billion by 2030. At such high growth rate we need to truly consider how our natural resources are used, before it is too late. We create such a high demand for products that it’s destroying our planet.

Consumerism is often perceived as a way to satisfy ourselves in order to be happy. We want our things to be the newest and the greatest and if it doesn’t satisfy us anymore, we want them bigger, faster and even newer. Shopping is becoming less about our needs and more about our desire to own.

I’m not saying not to buy anything, but consider whether what you are purchasing is really a necessity or a luxury. We are using tremendous amount of natural and intellectual resources to produce unimportant things, and value things that can change the world to a much lesser extent.

I’m not pointing the finger at anyone because I am a huge consumer myself. I can’t say I feel guilty at the time of purchase, but later on I think about the money I could’ve saved. If we showed the same interest in  sustainability as we do for consumer products, our overall carbon footprint would be much lower.

An emerging term, ‘anti-consumerism’, is rapidly increasing its popularity. According to dictionaries, anti-consumerism is a sociopolitical ideology that is opposed to consumerism, which is defined as the continual buying and consuming of material possessions. While this concept is a noble one and represent an idea to strive for, it can also be quite intimidating.

Here is something else to consider: to make the transition to the new concept less radical you don’t have to go cold turkey on shopping, all you have to do is to make a few changes here and there. You can also think about embracing a minimalist lifestyle.

As Joshua Becker says: “it is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it”. He also highlights that minimalism helps us stop seeking value and happiness in our possessions but rather seek value and happiness in our relationships and experiences. Joshua is a thought leader on minimalism, and the founder of Becoming Minimalist.

If you want to make a change, here are a few ways how to cut back:

  1. Take Inventory – Identify what you actually use and what you can live  without. Once you have taken care of the necessities, you can donate the things that you don’t need and  support worthy causes.
  2. Wait Before You Purchase – Impulsive purchases get us in a lot of trouble. Waiting for a week or so after finding a perfect item for a purchase and still wanting it is probably a sign that you need it. If the desire disappears, you can breathe a sigh of relief and forget about it.
  3. List Things That You Need – Before going  shopping , make a list of things that you really need and only buy those items.
  4. Limit Technology – Pick  one or two days every month to look at sales emails and online shops.
  5. Translate Price to Hours Worked – Think of the number of  hours you have to work to afford an item and decide  if it’s worth it or not.
  6. Buy Nothing – If you are a radical lifestyle-changer, you can try to join the movements of Buy Nothing Project or Buy Nothing Christmas.

All in all, we aren’t bad people because we like to shop and buy things. We just need to consider the impact it has on our natural resources. The increase in production increases our carbon footprint and waste, causing climate change. On a more personal level, excessive buying is wasting you money that could be spent on something valuable for you or those around you.. It’s time for all of us to think about our purchases and make sure we really need the products we desire.


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