5 questions to ask yourself before buying anything!

Show Notes 

Do you want to save money, your hard-earned time, and the planet? If so, this episode is for you! We walk through 5 questions to ask yourself before buying anything so you can start being a conscious consumer. Stop impulse shopping and start making an impact! Grab a seat and open your mind as we discuss conscious consumerism, which sounds like a pretty complex term, but it just means the increased awareness of our purchasing decisions. It’s trying to use our purchasing power to make a positive social, economic, and environmental impact – or if you’ve ever heard the phrase “vote with your dollar” – it’s the same idea.

Do I really need it?

Or does the person I am buying it for really need it? Most of us trade our precious time for money, which means when we spend it with abandon, we have to keep working harder and longer to get ahead. Separating your wants from your needs will not only help you save money but help you save time since most of us trade our time for money on a daily basis. You may have something that already can get the job done, or if you’re like me, you might already have two. Consider making it for yourself or thrifting instead. Here’s a full list of DIY and low waste items!

Where is the product from?

Have you ever looked at the tag in your clothes to see where it was made? The same thing applies to any products you buy. It’s a quick check that might help you realize the potential impacts of the product. It may clue you into the working conditions of the person who made it. It can also help you determine its environmental impact. For instance, if a product is made across the world, it definitely is leaving a larger carbon footprint to ship it to you than something that is made and sold locally.

Who am I buying it from?

It’s a great idea to buy from a small business in your state or country instead of large corporations. When you buy from a small business you’re making so much more of an impact on that company staying in business than if you bought from a huge corporation. Your purchase could mean putting food on the table for a family – which is huge! A lot of people buy from Amazon because it is quick and easy to find products. One tip is to utilize Amazon to find what you are looking for, click on the company that is selling the product you would like, and go to their website to buy from them directly. Almost every time I’ve done this the customer service is better, and I get to really learn who I’m buying from. Small businesses are usually pretty competitive with pricing, and if you’re purchasing from a company that has dirt cheap prices, maybe the question isn’t why are the small businesses’ prices so expensive, but how the company could sell those items so cheap? One of the biggest tells if a company is sustainable and ethical is its transparency. You should be able to go on to the companies website and see specific and clear information about where they source their materials, where the products are manufactured, and their practices. You can see if the item is Fairtrade certified, or some companies that are B-corp certified will proudly name it on their website. One thing to note is not to get confused by greenwashing. Greenwashing, also known as “green sheen” is when companies spend more time and money claiming to be green through marketing rather than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. It is misleading to buyers and usually leaves the effort of actually being green in the buyer’s hands.

How long will it last?

You can usually tell by looking at how a product was made if it is a quality product or not. You don’t want to have to invest in a product and then turn around a year later and have to buy it again because it didn’t hold up, or throw it in the trash because it’s taking up space in your coveted junk drawer. What is that product’s end of life? Will it go to the landfill, or will you be able to recycle or return it at the end of life? Maybe how long the product will last depends on how long you plan to use it? If you plan on using something every day, it may wear down quicker. So you’d want to buy something that is more durable or of higher quality. If you are planning on only using something once, like an outfit for a wedding, the best option may be to rent or borrow.

What else can I do?

If you really want to move the needle on making environmental change, there are a few things you could do that don’t involve using your purchasing power:
  • Ask people who may be buying you gifts to donate the money to environmental organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund instead
  • Use your voice and vote in and support environmentally conscious representatives at all levels of government and hold them accountable
  • Support youth-led climate movements like the Sunrise Movement or Defend Our Future.
  • Support initiatives that help women foster education, family planning, and entrepreneurship.
  • Volunteer at non-profit organizations, like Feeding America, which help to rescue billions of pounds of excess food that would otherwise end up in a landfill, and putting it towards people who are in need.
  • Something To Grow On

    Your Something to Grow on this week is a quote from statistician and economist EF Schumacher that reads “Infinite Growth of Material Consumption in a finite world is an impossibility” This doesn’t mean we have to halt economic growth, but instead of material consumption for economic growth, we should focus economic growth through increasing the quality of our goods, and efficiency in things like education and health services, public transportation, and industrial processes which would help to decrease the large quantities of products being consumed and reduce the harm to the environment.

    more from the podcast

    I’ve made a digital worksheet that you can use to help outline your goals, your priorities, and your actions for the week and month that you can download for free! Subscribe below to get the worksheet emailed directly to you. You can check out Hometown: Earth on Instagram @hometownearth for statistics on the top household offenders for harmful products and waste that may help you to decide what you want to try to change first!


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