Let’s be honest. ‘Zero waste lifestyles’ are not incredibly practical.
Might we aspire to them? Yes. Might we marvel at those who can live on little to nothing? Absolutely.
But as a realist, you know that producing zero waste is not a lifestyle you can maintain. Admitting this doesn’t mean you hate the environment. It doesn’t mean you can’t be a minimalist. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you should give up on owning less stuff, or producing less trash.
One of the easiest ways to help the environment is to stop buying things you don’t need. In today’s world of Amazon Prime and instant-delivery, we often confuse states of ‘need’ and ‘want.’
OMG, that shirt is so cute. Only $18? Buying it.
My dog’s collar looks kinda dirty. He needs a new one.
I don’t want to eat the food we have at home. Let’s order from Uber Eats.
All too often we are making purchase decisions on a whim without asking ourselves whether it is a good idea. We don’t even need to bring the environment into this conversation, although when you purchase fewer things, you will inherently produce less trash, causing a reduction of waste cast out into a landfill.
Without considering the environment, think about how you could benefit from not making instant purchases. You can ask yourself, ‘Is this a smart way to spend my money?’ But how will you determine whether it is smart or not? How will you determine whether you actually ‘need’ the thing, or you only ‘want’ the thing.
Before you make any purchase, I encourage you to follow these two steps.
Step One—Ask Yourself These Questions
You can ask yourself if purchasing this item is a smart use of your money, or if your ‘best self’ would purchase this item. You can also consider the questions below to help you determine different avenues of also getting the thing you think you need.
Do I already have something like this? If this is similar to something I already own, how is it different or better?
Can I buy this second-hand?
How long or how often will I actually use this? Can I borrow this from someone instead?
Can I instead put this on a gift idea list for myself, because it is more of a ‘nice to have’ than a true ‘need’?
Give yourself some time to consider the answers to the questions above. Try waiting 2–3 days before you make that purchase. I believe that one of the following events will occur:
The excitement of purchasing this item on impulse will have passed, and you just saved yourself money.
You’ll have realized you don’t need it after all.
You realize that putting this on a gift idea list is better, because there are always some people who love to buy you gifts for special occasions.
You truly do need the item, and you purchase it because it is a smart use of your money and the item will be put to good use.
There is nothing wrong with buying stuff. Minimalism and environmentalism are not made to make anyone feel guilty about buying things in a time of need. Or even a time of want because it would bring you joy, if you want to play the Marie Kondo card.
But smart purchases can have a positive ripple effect in many different ways.
Most importantly to you? Your wallet!