How do you decide to buy something new? Buying nothing new has helped me to examine my own internal processes when it comes to consuming. Before 2013 buying something new would come from a variety of thought processes.
First, I need it. I need it and I need it soon. I can’t search for it, I can’t buy it second hand. I need to have it now. This would usually be the course taken for something I needed by a deadline – for school, someone’s birthday, for a wedding etc. This is the thought process that led me to make one of my final 2012 new purchases – my exercise pants. My old ones had gone missing and I needed them for Mums and Bubs fitness. For some reason I needed black, full length yoga pants. My light blue tracksuit pants? No! My grey tracksuit pants? No! My 3/4 length black yoga pants? No! Of course, I found my lost pair a few days after my purchase.
Second, I saw it. I liked it. I want it. Sometimes I’d get it straight away. Sometimes I’d check out something similar in a few places. Sometimes I would stop myself making the purchase initially, then go home and think about it constantly until I came back for it. Sometimes I’d make myself wait until the next day and then, if I still wanted it, I’d get it.
Third, I’d buy it on impulse. I was walking through the shops and I liked it and I bought it. I wasn’t looking for it, I hadn’t made the decision to go to the shops for it. I just liked it. These were often the things I didn’t wear or use. Those things that got tucked away and eventually donated.
Finally, my fourth decision making process, I’d needed it for a while. I was willing to wait until the ‘perfect’ or ‘cheapest’ or ‘best’ was available, but I’d saved or allowed the money for it and I was consciously making a decision to buy this thing.
This week I made the decision to buy something new – reusable breast pads. I made it through an entirely different process. I knew it was something I could buy locally, from a small shop, run by a person I admire. It meant I would no longer need to use a disposable version of the same thing. It is something I’ll be able to use for a long time as it is good quality and easy to care for. It is also something that would be difficult to get second hand. I spent some time searching sites like Ebay to confirm this (although I did bid on some unused but second ‘ownered’ on Ebay to reduce the number I’d need to buy new). I am still deciding whether I will make this purchase. I also need to investigate whether I could make them myself, though I don’t have the materials I’d need to experiment with at hand. This is the process that I hope I will be able to go through each time I make decisions in the future to buy something new.
Here are some guiding questions that I think will help me with the decisions I make in the future to buy new items.
- Is there somewhere I can get it that will benefit my community?
- Is it something that will make a positive or negative impact on the environment?
- Is it something good quality that will be usable for the period of time in which I will need it?
- Is it something I will be able to pass on through donation or sale when I am finished with it, or is there a way I can dispose of it ethically?
- Is it something I can buy second hand?
- Do I really need it? How much do I really need it?
- Could I make it myself with materials I already have?
- Is there something I already own that could serve the same purpose?
Mother Nature Network speaks of this same idea, though suggests that there are just three questions the conscious consumer need ask before making a purchase. This is worth a read if the topic interests you.