The desire for a more simple, frugal, green, or mindful relationship with your possessions can be sparked from a number of sources. Inspiration to whittle down your attachment to objects emotionally, intellectually, and physically may come from a spiritual practice. Or it may come from a concern about your environmental impact and wanting to tread as lightly on the world around you as possible. It may also come from wanting to opt-out of our consumer economy.
Whatever your personal motivation, here are four questions to ask that will help you set off in the right direction, as well as stay traveling that way.
1. Do I really need this?
It may seem self-evident, but asking yourself if you really need something before purchasing is an important check to make against impulse buying. Even if you usually carefully consider your purchases, stop for a moment more and consider whether you genuinely need the item in front of you. Is this purchase driven by a practical desire to accomplish something? Are you attempting to fill an emotional void? Are you simply responding to a need that's been created for you, where none actually exists? You may be surprised by the answer that arises.
2. If I’ve lived without this so far, can I continue to do so?
If you’ve been satisfied with your life recently without this new chair, shirt, camera, or phone, will getting it bring more satisfaction, comfort, or creative possibilities? This question is particularly useful if the object in question is something totally new to you, and not a replacement for something that has worn out or been lost.
3. Can I rent or borrow it instead?
Before you commit to a purchase, ask if you can rent or borrow the item. This will be applicable for some, if not all items, especially for those seldom-used. With the sharing economy increasing, it may be possible to either rent or borrow, where just 10 years ago buying was your only option. You can do this with many tools, bicycles, sports gear, and musical instruments. You can even rent solar panels, just paying for the power that’s produced by them.
4. Am I getting the longest-lasting, most timelessly styled, and greenest option available?
By this point you’ve made the decision that a purchase needs to be made. Opt for the most well-made and classically styled option you can find. Look for items made of durable materials, produced in an environmentally sustainable manner, and from as ecologically-friendly materials as possible. Ideally, your purchased items will be made by someone making a fair wage for their labors and in healthy working conditions. Of course, most things you’re looking to buy will not meet all of these criteria, but consider as many as you can before purchasing.
© 2013 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies