Often it seems that being kind to the earth means paying more. Many “green” goods come with a much higher price tag — in everything from food to building materials.
Often it seems that being kind to the earth means paying more. Many “green” goods come with a much higher price tag — in everything from food to building materials. And when we’ve had a reduction in our income and are forced to cut back, the first things to go might be the eco-friendly dish soap and organic coffee. But it’s not only what we buy that matters, it’s how much we buy. ”Limiting our purchases to the essentials is the most effective way to curb the impact of our consumption,” says Francine Jay, author of “The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide.” She points out that every single thing we buy uses up some of the earth’s resources. Its production and distribution require energy, and it must of course be disposed of when its useful life is over. “Therefore, the best way to be eco-friendly is simply to buy less.”
Spending less is actually liberating, Jay says, and though it may require a shift in thinking, you may have more options than you realize. She recommends buying used goods — shopping secondhand markets like eBay, Craigslist, Freecycle and thrift stores for furniture, appliances, electronics, clothes and books. “Why waste materials, energy, and money on a new item when an existing one will do?”
Of course, you can also borrow. Your local library has books, music and movies. The movie selection won’t be as vast as it would be from a DVD rental service you pay for. But you might end up broadening your horizons by watching documentaries or classic films. Jay points out that many communities offer tool share and car share programs as well. And don’t forget your friends and family! “Most will be happy to lend you a cocktail dress, video camera, or other seldom-used item if the need arises, “Jay says. “Just remember to be equally generous with your own stuff!” Committing to spending less can make us more resourceful and creative; you may find you actually enjoy the challenge of living on less and making do with what you already have.
But what if you simply love going to the mall and acquiring new things? Don’t leave your principles at the door and shop mindlessly. Jay suggests developing “a habit of asking ‘why?’ before you buy. For example: Am I purchasing this because I need it, or because I saw it in an ad, on a friend, or looking pretty on a mannequin? Consider if the item will really add value to your life — or if you’d be better off (and less stressed) in the long run by simply saving the money.”