Rethinking Stuff

stuffed animals

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been thinking a lot about ecology and frugality lately. When it comes to the stuff we buy, they intersect very neatly. Buying less stuff is good for nature, and it’s good when you’re trying to keep a minimalist home, too.

Now, my home is nowhere near minimalist, but I do try to keep the clutter down. I don’t need stuff. I don’t want stuff. For my recent birthday, the only things I acquired were plants. Those I need (ok, want).

I’ve developed a little checklist that I go through in my head when I want to buy something. It really helps to go through this process, and to learn how to question needs. It’s easy to head off to the store at the slightest inkling of wanting or needing something. To be frugal and eco-savvy is to take a step back, look at those wants, and figure out another way to meet them.

Here’s what I ask myself when I want something:

Why do you want or need this item?

Could you do without this item? Is it a want rather than a need?

Is there another object or activity that you already have that could fill this want or need?
Do you still want or need this item?

How long does it last?

How is it made?

Who makes it?

Will you get tired of it before it wears out?

What will happen to it after you are finished with it?

And again, I ask myself: do you still want or need this item?

Can you repair or repurpose something to fill this need?

Can you get this for free from a neighbor or a community network?

Can you make this yourself?

Can you barter to get this?

Can you find somewhere to buy this secondhand?

Can you find someone who can make it?

If you can’t find this item secondhand, ask:

Can I find something that is made locally, ethically, and sustainably?

How long will it last?

Can it be repaired?

How can I reuse or recycle this item after I am finished with it?

Do you find yourself questioning purchases more in these frugal times?

Image Credit: Linder