We all know buying too much stuff is not good for the environment. We need to love, use, reuse what we have, borrow, upcycle/ make what we don’t and waste far less. Buying less is a mindset.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before buying:
- Why do I want to shop less?
- Is it on my list?
- Do I actually need it? Do I already own something that would do the job?
- Will use it regularly? Do I have room to store it? Could I borrow it?
- Could it wait a while?
- Is this item going to add value to my life? Will it bring me joy?
- Is having this thing more important to me than my goal of [insert goal here]?
- Am I willing to put the time in to maintain this item (dry clean only / dust /repairs)?
- If the item was full price, would I still buy it?
When a purchase is required, buy it Pre-loved if possible, or try to find a sustainable option (experiences make fantastic gifts for example).
There are a huge number of ways of finding preloved treasures, from Freebeecycle groups, to online market places (Ebay, Shpock, Facebook Marketplace). And for the non-digital options, you can’t beat a good charity shop, boot fair, clothes swap event or schools second-hand uniforms and books sales. You can find great quality items in fantastic condition, save a fortune and massively reduce the environmental impact of that purchase. Good for the planet and for your pocket. Wins all round!
Don’t forget that borrowing is a great way of getting what you need when you need it without having to clutter your home with yet another purchase which will only be used once or twice. The Library of Things is a fantastic local resource, enabling user to borrow professional grade items for a small fee. They are based in Crystal Palace but opening new libraries all the time. Our Greener & Cleaner Bromley (& Beyond) FaceBook group is also a great place to ask to borrow items. It’s not unusual for members to lend costumes, books, tools, etc…
Go Plastic free
Here are some fabulous tips compiled and shared by our member Tracey for #PlasticFreeJuly (a month-long challenge to reduce the amount of single-use plastic we consume, with a long-term aim of changing habits and reducing further):
What does the challenge mean to you? Are you going to avoid all single-use plastic in July or just certain things (like bottles, coffee cups, wet wipes etc)? Know what success looks like for you personally so you have something to aim for each day.
It will be difficult. No one is perfect and if you don’t achieve a completely plastic-free day then it’s ok! Be honest with yourself, recognise what went wrong and try again. It will get easier the more you do it.
Forward plan. I think this is key to avoiding single-use plastic. For example, think about meal planning so you know what you need to get for each day / week, then think about where you can buy it packaging free. Do you need to avoid online shopping and instead plan a trip to the supermarket or local market stall to get loose fruit and veg, visit a zero-waste shop for dried foods & cleaning product refills and is there a butchers (or supermarket counter) near you where you can take your own containers?
Stop and think. If you pop into a shop while you’re out, it’s easy to ‘grab & go’, but try to stop and look at all the options available for what you are about to buy and choose the one with no (or the least amount) of plastic. It’s amazing how much more plastic you ‘see’ when you look at packaging properly.
Prepare! Get your containers, reusable coffee cup, water bottle and loose veg bags ready and keep them with you, in the car or easily accessible by the front door so you can grab them on the way to the shops. Don’t forget your reusable shopping bags too!
Don’t create waste! The challenge isn’t about throwing out all the single use plastic already in your home. It is less wasteful to continue to use items you already have until they are finished and then replace with a zero-waste option. So, for example, if you run out of toothpaste in July, think about what alternatives you can replace it with rather than just buying a new tube. Don’t forget you can reuse many plastic bottles and containers at zero waste shops to refill toiletries and cleaning products.
Finally, remember that some plastic is going to be unavoidable such as with medicines etc so, in these cases, think about how you are disposing of the waste.