Inside: Use these tips on mindful shopping to reduce consumption while maximizing your savings.
A guest post by Cora Gold
Influencers and magazines are constantly telling us to buy into the next big trend.
From fashion to home decor to tech, the pressure to have the latest trends has led many of us into overconsumption.
Not only is this bad for your wallet, but it’s bad for your home, your well-being, and the environment.
Here are a few tips to help you shop more mindfully and minimize your consumption.
They’ll help you learn how to plan your purchases before you buy and to shop more sustainably.
Mindful Shopping: Before You Buy
With all the advertising tricks and excellent marketing made to draw your attention, planning ahead helps you resist the temptation to go for everything new and shiny.
Here are some times to help you shop more intentionally and buy what you actually need.
1. Plan Your Purchases
Have you ever walked out of a store with way more than you planned to buy? Or added so many items to your online shopping cart because the prices were irresistible?
It’s easy to just fill your digital or physical cart when you’re presented with so many options, so you need to find strategies to limit what you buy and when you buy it.
When you notice that you want or need a new item, ask yourself these questions before purchasing:
- Do I have to buy this item new? Are there secondhand options?
- How often will I use this item?
- This looks attractive, but would I need it if it wasn’t on sale?
- Will I need this after a month?
2. Ask Yourself If It Adds Value to Your Life
Making valuable purchases that will last a long time and serve multiple purposes is part of both minimalist and environmentally friendly living. Before you buy an item, ask yourself how it will add value to your life.
This is easier to do with bigger items. When you need a washing machine or refrigerator, the value it adds to your life is felt more than smaller objects like clothes or decorative items.
Even the smallest items are investments that need money, maintenance or space. Remember that before you buy, especially if the item is on sale.
While a dress that’s half-price may seem attractive, if you have a few more just like it, you may want to reconsider. Similarly, if you see a fun mug but know that you already have plenty of them at home and don’t need more, the pretty one on sale won’t really add any value to your life.
When you have a good sense of your why for living simply, it becomes more clear which items are supporting your values and goals and which ones are getting in the way of them.
3. Consider Where the Products Come From
Part of shopping intentionally is choosing stores and vendors to buy from. Commercial corporations are more likely to have larger footprints than small businesses.
The impact of your purchases matters, so it’s a good idea to look for stores and brands that care about the environment and pay their workers a fair wage. For example, if you love your coffee and want to source it in a more sustainable way, you can look for a brand that’s fair trade, organic and eco-friendly.
You can learn more about a store’s efforts to produce sustainability by looking at its social media pages or websites to see its philosophies.
Whether you’re looking for household items, food, tech or building materials, look for eco-friendly labels before you buy. Labels allow you to quickly and easily identify products that align with your values.
Buying secondhand is also a great option that is more sustainable. It can help save you money while keeping items out of a landfill. Just make sure to practice mindful shopping so that you don’t bring home more than you intended.
Mindful Shopping: When You Buy
Planning your purchases will help you shop with more intent so you buy what you need and spend money on valuable items.
These tips will help you shop sustainably and minimize consumption when it’s time to make a purchase.
4. Think Twice If You Already Have a Similar Item
Just as you probably don’t need several different sets of wine glasses, there are some items that you already have that you can keep through maintenance.
A newer version may look exciting, but if you don’t actually need it, you’re better off saving your money or waiting to buy something you need.
Holding off on buying unnecessary items can prevent textiles, plastics and other materials from ending up in landfills. That’s especially true in fashion, which contributes almost 10% of the carbon emissions in the world.
When you get the urge to buy impulsively, check in with yourself before adding it to your cart. Ask yourself:
- Is this item similar to something I already have at home?
- Would this new product work better or give you more advantage in the task?
- Do you need it right now or can you wait until later?
These questions will help you not only to save money but also to avoid clutter in your home.
5. Reduce Online Orders
Online shopping makes it easy to fall for the temptation of overconsumption. When you can get anything at the click of a button – even your groceries for the day — it makes life convenient.
However, online shopping has many flaws. First, it’s all too easy to add items to your cart that you don’t need just because it’s being promoted online.
Additionally, you have to take the “expectation versus reality” risk – clothes that may not fit, home decor that’s smaller than it looked online, makeup that’s not the right shade. If you saw the product in-person, you may not have even considered buying it.
Further, the more orders you make, the more packaging you receive. Most times, it’s plastic packaging, cardboard or paper filling to protect your products.
While some online stores are moving towards sustainable and recyclable packaging, and 79% of shoppers actively seek it, it’s yet to become the norm.
When shopping online, look for eco-friendly brands and companies prioritizing sustainable shipping. Only order things online that you can’t get in a store, or buy from a brand you’re already familiar with to avoid a sizing mishap.
Never buy something just to hit a spending minimum for free shipping or a gift with purchase.
Additionally, you can minimize your consumption with online shopping by reducing your order frequency and making bulk purchases. One larger order will lessen the amount of packaging needed and the emissions from delivery trips to get your package to your door.
It’s also important to note that online returns end up contributing to waste as well.
6. Make Do With What You Have
Sometimes, you need an item for a short time or for occasional use. And while owning every appliance or piece of clothing ‘just in case’ is convenient, it requires space.
When considering a new purchase, determine how often you’ll use it and if it’s worth it. If you’ll only need it occasionally, consider renting or borrowing it.
There are various options for ways to make do instead of buy new. They will help you to save money and keep your space clutter-free.
Also consider which items you could repair instead of replace. Working with what you have can save you money and extend the life of the things you already own.
This also helps you make guilt-free purchases when it comes to things you need. You’ll feel better knowing you saved your money for the items you’ll use every day and that are ones you actually need.
Mindful Shopping: After You Buy
If you purchased something and brought it home only to regret your choice, don’t feel like you’re stuck with it. You can always return it and choose to give it more thought before buying next time.
With these tips, you can make wiser purchases knowing that you were intentional about your decision and made an effort to have as low environmental impact as possible.
Remember to recycle your packaging and support businesses that manufacture eco-friendly, fair-trade and organic products that support sustainable living and the environment.
Additional resources on mindful shopping:
- 15 activities to enjoy instead of shopping
- What to do if you have a shopping problem
- 15 things I stopped buying after simplifying
- 27 things I am not purchasing this year
How do you plan to be more mindful with shopping? Let us know if the comments section below.
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