Sustainable buying is KEY!
The Joy of Marketing
We are constantly bombarded with temptation. As we speak, emails are eagerly flowing in the direction of our inboxes each day.
For all the cost-of-living rises, consumerism still seems at its height. The wonderful world wide web and its friend, the email campaign, is rife in our inboxes every day, encouraging us with offers we feel we can’t refuse.
But are we buying responsibly and making sustainable choices?
Seasonal offers, amazon prime week. Next will be Black Friday, America’s generous donation to the UK economy, after their (IMHO sad) success of Halloween.
Back in my day, this wasn’t really a thing. Some people dressed up and went trick or treating but we peaked with apple bobbing at home. All good. Sweet even.
Not the fright fest it is today, with (IMHO) ridiculous amounts of money spent on vast amounts of polyester attire from the local supermarkets. *shudder*.
I prefer Hong Kong’s version where the kids all dress up in superheroes or whatever they like. Either way, we’ll always be a homemade fancy dress kind of family.
Anyway, I digress.
Buy Buy Buy
I spent a small fortune on a set of stamps whilst we still have the Queen’s head on. Important? Probably not. But time sensitive, before Charles’s takeover.
One day, perhaps my daughter will appreciate them, or sell them for a small fortune. Who knows.
It’s an investment, at a time when most of us are still balking at paying 95p for a first-class stamp. Short shrift for Xmas cards this year I’m guessing!
But what does this all mean for us, the consumer, struggling to eat and heat our homes this year?
And for those not struggling so much (because you’re probably the ones reading this, right?) what of you?
You might be tempted by the generous offers. The new stuff…next thing…latest trend…
How much time do you spend researching that thing before you buy it? Do you price shop? Check out the reviews?
Look at how quickly you could get it. Today? Tomorrow? 5 Days? Gosh, surely that’s a long time to wait? More than a week – you’re kidding, right?
I didn’t even know I wanted it until this morning but now I MUST HAVE IT NOW!
It’s all got a bit hectic, hasn’t it?
Just like Christmas
Who remembers a time when we went shopping once a week – to real shops? The weekend treat. A mooch into town to see what was going on in the outside world.
If we wanted something big, we’d plan for it, looking at it repeatedly week on week, touching it, trying it on for size.
All whilst saving up for it, enjoying the feeling that one day it would be ours. Building up that happy hormone, ready for the day.
And then it would come! The expectation building, just like waiting for Christmas Day.
Maybe we’d saved enough or even better – it would be on sale! Yes please to that double dopamine hit! Woo-hoo!
Anticipation’s what ya need
We’ve lost that feeling of long-awaited anticipation. That feeling of having deserved something and earned it seems dulled by credit cards and the internet. It’s convenient but sad.
I’d been working at a cake shop every Saturday for a few months by the time I was 15. As Kenickie famously says in Grease, “I was saving up to get me some wheels”. And some tunes, via a HiFi system.
In my case, a bike. That bike gave me the freedom to cycle to school instead of relying on my mum or the bus.
I can’t remember whether the bike preceded the stereo or vice versa, but both, at that age, were life changing.
High streets everywhere are suffering. Personally, I love the experience of shopping and browsing.
My favourite shops by far, though, are where I find the unexpected. The products and brands I wasn’t necessarily aware of or looking for.
From charity shops, vintage and antique centres to restoration yards, you never know what you will discover.
You have to be in the mood, granted, but I love finding something with a history. Something with a rich patina that shows how much it’s been used or loved.
Who owned it, I always wonder? Was it cherished or taken for granted?
Too much stuff
Even the very wealthy, I don’t believe, had quite so much stuff as we do nowadays. Toys, in particular, is a massive point in hand.
I mused the other day, watching Bargain Hunt. They found a tiny Victorian chair where little girls would place their prized dolls.
Imagine, I said to my little girl, if you only had ONE dolly. How much you’d love her and care for her…
The exception to this is probably (and sadly I think) books.
I feel like I’m in a minority these days, in that I have a lot (predominantly non-fiction). I can colour code them on my bookcase (as I’ve done) but they are what they are.
Three books carefully styled on an otherwise empty shelf look beautiful but just don’t resonate with me.
My other favourite shopping experience is to a Designer-Maker show or shop.
I love a craft fair, although, as my dad once noted, there can often be a difference between craft and art.
What he meant is that there is a large division between someone who has learned craft skills (amateur crafter) and someone who has the eye to apply them in a discerning and aesthetically pleasing manner (designer-craftsperson).
Luckily, these days professional designer-makers really are the business! Each piece organically created with inherent flaws or flourishes which make each entirely unique. Made with love and therefore special.
I love to meet the maker, understand their ethos, and resonate with their story.
To know (from first-hand experience!) how much every sale means to that small business and to see how their family and whole community thrive as a result.
So what’s the answer?
Buying sustainably isn’t really AN option.
It’s really the ONLY option for our future.
There’s already enough stuff to go around, but I get it and am guilty of it too – we all want nice new things to play with.
Sometimes making small changes at home or to our wardrobes can lift our mood.
Personally, I like change.
I’ve often just moved furniture around to get a different perspective on life.
It’s like trying on a new style or ensemble. It can be quite exhilarating to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Think more deeply
Rather than just price-checking and searching for reviews, you could check out the company’s green credentials.
Are products made sustainably and ethically with sustainable materials and processes? What’s the environmental impact of packaging, shipping, and transportation? Carbon footprint?
Lots of greenwashing exists these days too, so it’s often hard to know how genuine companies are.
Get more involved
Tech is always a tricky one, but fabrics and furniture can be reused. Upcycling and recycling can also be incredibly therapeutic.
We spend so much of our lives staring at screens these days, that it’s really good to disconnect from them and reconnect with ourselves and our surroundings.
Finding the right piece of furniture to fit your space and style is half the battle but getting hands-on is so good for your well-being. It’s also good to be open-minded about what could become your perfect solution!
Apart from the therapeutic qualities which handcrafts bring, you’ll always feel more attached to pieces that you have some physical input into.
Sanding/preparing, painting, tiling, wallpapering, or sewing your own cushions or curtains. The doing part, encouraging hand-to-eye coordination, nourishes you.
Standing back and admiring the wall, soft furnishings or bathroom tiles that you did yourself is so rewarding.
Every time you look at it, you’ll remember the love, heart, and soul you put into it. It will link you to your home, as well as doing something amazing with neural pathways in your brain.
All good stuff.
On a more morose level, our planet is getting desperate.
Global warming’s no longer the quiet whispering in corners that it felt like when I was young. Tsunamis, droughts, heatwaves, forest fires, tornados, floods, icecap depletion, and famine.
It’s all around us and it’s getting worse so much quicker than we feared.
It is our collective responsibility to individually make that difference now.
So no, being sustainable is no longer an option. It’s a necessity.
In the words of James Bond’s Skyfall baddy – “Think on your sins”.
We can all do it together
On the plus side, and not to leave on such a terrifying endpoint, there is SO much hope.
More and more companies are cottoning on to the world’s plight and to making that difference. They are beginning to realise that it’s not just about conscience but about economic survival.
Research is being done into renewable energy, and how we can make an impact. As an individual, household, community, and together on a global scale.
So, before you rush to click “buy”, please ask yourself the following
- Do I need or just want it?
- Is it useful, beautiful, or meaningful?
- Has it been sustainably and ethically made (or could I find an alternative which has been)?
- Has it been well-made to last, or will it need replacing?
- Could I buy it second-hand (vintage/antique/charity shop/ebay etc) and/or upcycle/recycle/make it myself?
- Could I commission something bespoke, which I will treasure forever?
Even just THINKING about this topic will hopefully make a difference to the way that you shop, so thank you for taking the time to read this.
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