It may seem to be a simple purchase–a cheap pair of jeans, an exotic or out-of-season fruit–but how many consumers really take the time to consider the far-reaching effects of a purchase? All “stuff” has a story, and not all stories are good ones. Hopefully, we can all be more aware of how, what, and why we consume and purchase what we do. How in the world does one begin?
Dave Chameides of Care2.com offers the following list of questions consumers might wish to ask before making a purchase. He is unsure of the original author but felt it was definitely worth sharing with others, and I agree. Thirteen questions may seem like a lot to ask, but once you do it a few times you will automatically begin to think in these terms. In fact, you may not even be as tempted to make purchases.
1. Is this purchase something I need?
2. Do I already own something that will serve the same purpose?
3. Can I borrow one instead of buying new?
4. Can I make something that will serve the same purpose?
5. Can I buy a used one?
6. Would someone be willing to split the cost and share this with me?
7. Can I buy or commission one made locally?
8. Can I buy one that was made with environmentally responsible materials?
9. Can I buy one that serves more than one purpose?
10. Can I get something human powered instead of gas or electric?
11. Can I compost or recycle it when I’m done with it?
12. What is the impact on the environment of the full life cycle of it?
13. Does the manufacture or disposal of it damage the environment?
For me, mindful consumption is part of what it means to love my neighbor as myself. Since all that I do has a potential impact on neighbors near and far, I must carefully consider the way I use my time, resources, and purchasing power.
What questions do you ask before making a purchase and choosing to consume?
How can we all be more mindful of our decisions and how they impact others?
Check out The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard. This short film is well worth watching and may just change your life (and the lives of many others).
Photo by Coffee Core. Thanks!