Since starting this blog I’ve realized how my consumerism shapes the companies that create the products I buy. If we all stopped buying a product, they would stop making it. It’s that simple. So I’ve written about how we can use our buying power to create a sustainable consumer. And the title is true, the first step is to stop bargain shopping.
Fight the urge to blindly buy
This past week I’ve been fighting the desire to buy. Occasionally I get the urge to spend. It’s the surplus of extra money for more than a few weeks that causes me to spend money on things I don’t need. You know the old saying, I’ve got money burning a hole in my pocket.
Then I notice a pair of shoes online or a helpful gadget.
And then those three little words come to mind “I need it,” or “I’ve had a busy week, I deserve something new.”
At this point I have decided to buy something. I reasoned the purpose, I have the extra money and I’ve had the money for a while; it feels like I’m being a responsible adult and can make my purchase.
So the hunt begins! If you’re like me, you’re a bargain shopper. I love finding the best price for an item. My Grandma, who grew up in the depression, and was a professional at bargain shopping showed me the importance of finding a deal. While this mentality can have a lot of good qualities, like saving money, it also comes with a few downfalls too.
Unfortunately, businesses know that consumers love to ‘get a deal’ when we buy something new. So, they use a variety of tactics to influence you to buy and make you think you are getting a great deal. But in fact you’re still paying well over market value for something that is made to look like the high quality brand.
How To Be More Eco-Conscious When Shopping
The way I shop has to change if I want to become more eco-friendly. It will not be easy but you’ll be satisfied with the products you purchase because they will be higher quality and better craftsmanship. And there is room for a little bargain hunting too but it’s done by shopping second hand.
First step to making more eco-friendly purchases?
You Guessed It…
Don’t Bargain Shop
When we bargain shop we are usually in a store that doesn’t sell high quality items. You know the stores that offer weekly discounts, supposedly huge savings and cash back to be spent on another shopping trip. All of these tactics make you feel as if you really saved money but in reality you bought low quality items and now you have to come back to buy more low quality items.
Clothing specifically, is one of the worst offenders of the environment. For instance, the cotton shirt you’re wearing took 700 gallons of water to make. Or the average American throws out 82 lbs of clothing (Planet Aid).
New clothes sold at low costs mean that the quality is poor and although it looks nice now, it likely won’t last. However, buying high quality clothing is expensive and with fashion trends changing so quickly, I would be broke before next season.
So here are some tips to curb the influence of marketers and make more sustainable purchases that will save you a ton of money.
Unsubscribe to email lists
I realized if I don’t get notifications about the sales and discounts offered at my favorite stores I am much less inclined to go search for something to buy.
The next time you get an email notification about a sale at your favorite store just unsubscribe to them. If you think you might use them later, set up a rule in your email to send it straight to a folder and only check them out the next time your mom’s birthday comes around.
Buy second hand
If you still like to bargain shop and love the thrill of the shop, then buy from thrift stores, or garage sales. The ultimate bargain find is finally finding something you’ve been search for at a fraction of the cost. My most recent glorious bargain find was a pair of Sperry boat shoes for a total of $2.50. They have a couple of scratches on the leather but they still have a ton of life in them. It was so exciting and satisfying to discover these, in my size for less than 5% the original cost! This is cheaper than any discount offered.
Stop comparing your style to others
It’s important to have your own identity. Stop letting fashion and marketing brands influence you. You are your own individual with your own sense of style. If you love purple leggings, then wear them. If you only want to wear white, then I hope you don’t like ketchup.
Along with your own sense of style, we have to stop letting brands tell us that everything has to be brand-new to be popular. Allowing brands and marketing commercials to influence what is appropriate and popular is something I remember from high school. It’s a new age, and we all know of their schemes to keep us buying their products. If you want to become more eco-friendly, Brand-New is not part of the equation. Create your own identity and live in what you create.
Ask yourself “Do I need this now?”
It’s important to stop along the way to buying something and ask yourself, “Do I need this?” If the answer is yes, ask yourself, “Do I need this now?” Often I might say I need something but I could wait two weeks to buy jeans for the winter or a new wide-brimmed hat for the summer. If you can wait, I suggest you check a couple thrift stores before making your way to your old stomping grounds to buy it new.
One final note.
We are always comparing ourselves to others. It’s a natural way to gauge how well we are doing within our society. The problem with grading ourselves on this scale is that we often let companies and brand tells us what “we need”. But when we get right down to what we need, it’s not at all what the marketing brands are telling us to buy.
We need relationships and an ecosystem to sustain our growing population. Buying second hand and avoiding the traps that big brands lure us in with will help use become more eco-friendly and refocus our time and energy on things that create a richness to our lives.