To reduce consumerism and save the world by putting less trash and stuff out there, you should first ask yourself “Do I really need this, or could I live my life perfectly fine without it?”. If the answer is yes, you absolutely need it for your life to be complete (be honest!), then the next step is to see if you can buy the item you need used. There are a number of items out there that are pefectly acceptable in used condition, and sometimes the only difference from a shiny new one and an older one is the one you create in your mind. These could include:
- Cars, bikes
- Books, textbooks
- Gear (snowshoes, sleeping bags, sport equipment)
- Electronic equipment (blenders, toasters, ovens)
- Baby items
People selling used goods often list them on Craigslist or sell them in thrift stores or garage sales. While buying used products require a greater amount of effort (checking whether the item is in good shape and working condition), ultimately this could also save you big bucks. Cars can depreciate more than $2000 as it gets driven off the parking lot for the first time! That is good news for people that don’t care if the car still smells new and just need a working car.
But the real reason you should buy used, aside from economic purposes, is that it’s sustainable. Buying used means you’re not creating more products out there for your own needs – you’re using what is already out there, so you’re not making the world worse! It’s not sustainable for everyone to rush out and buy brand new cars every time they needed another car – can you imagine how many old cars would sit around junk yards with no use? Or how many trees would need to be cut down to make new books for every single student, if no one bought or rented books? How much mines would need to be exploited for the precious metals needed to make computers and cell phones, if we constantly traded in our phones to get new ones? The planet would overflow with all the used products nobody wanted, just because the attraction of having something brand new was more seductive than using what was already available, and it would collapse trying to provide for all our “needs”.
Don’t let be a Grinch by letting that seduction of “new and shiny” overpower your better feelings. Think of the planet. It can’t afford to produce new products for seven billion people – there aren’t enough resources, and it’s simply wasteful. Part of saving the world is dismantling our consumerism mentality down to buying just the necessities, and then, buying what is available and leaves a smaller ecological footprint. Being smarter about our purchases is ultimately one of the keys to saving the world and making it a cleaner and safer place.