The average person today consumes twice as much material goods as 50 years ago. However, the reasons why we consume is not necessarily because we need the items but because consumerism has crept into our lives. Our rational minds know not to buy things we don’t need, yet our irrational behaviour practises it to varying degrees of success.
There are, however, things which we need for specific purposes that are simply not useful otherwise. For example, bridal gowns – don’t think we expect to go through too many weddings. So, there are already rental systems for them. A van when we move. We don’t buy these things even if we need them because they are one-off needs.
In fact, there are many other smaller items in our lives that we buy even though we don’t have to own them. These items end up as clutter or in the bins; a good save if we managed to avoid trashing them. These are items that are relatively inexpensive to acquire and because it is relatively cheap and easy to purchase, we buy them. And we fall into the trap of consumerism.
Before simply buying something, consider the following options:
A friend in need is a friend indeed. Sometimes, we know a friend who already has something we need. A camping tent to borrow for the weekend. That glass cutter tool you need for your glass bottle chandelier project. A book that you promise to return. Borrow the tool and you might even get services thrown in for free! Share the same read and you’ll have something in common to talk about.
Of course, don’t scare away friends over items that you need repeatedly and should own yourself. And, always return favours!
We love the sharing economy – Uber allows you to rent your driver, Rent the Runway allows you to rent your wardrobe, WeWork allows you to rent a workspace, and so does Starbucks (you pay with coffee purchases). In fact, there are many other items that are rentable.
For example, renting travel coats with companies like Gibbon. For someone living in the tropics to own a winter jacket just because of a trip to London might not make much sense when you consider the cost of purchase, dry clean and the space it takes up in your wardrobe.
How about renting clothes for your kids because they outgrow them so quickly anyway? Companies like KidBox allow you to subscribe to a different set of clothes every month for your children. Might you do the same for your own wardrobe?
One way to own something without buying is to make it yourself. You can make a brand new shelf out of materials from the DIY store. Or upcycle old furniture. Depending on your skill level, you could even make tools on your own. There are so many joys and benefits of making your own things that definitely makes it a great alternative to buying readily-produced products.
There are many alternatives to buying things. We live in a world where things are produced with too little consideration to their lifecycle and we end up hurting the land, sea and air that make up earth. Cut down buying wherever possible and buy second hand or pre-loved items as much as we can. We don’t need to keep exhausting resources at ever-increasing rates. What we already have circulating on earth is enough.