We’ve all been there…
In the store staring at something we really don’t need, trying to justify all the reasons we do need three different types of fig spread for a two-person cheese board.
Artist and writer Sarah Lazarovic illustrated it best, as a spoof of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In her “Buyerarchy of Needs,” she demonstrates the path consumers should take in deciding when and how we should determine when to acquire new items. Simply put, ask yourself if you need something before you buy it.
Start by assessing if you could use what you already have, then borrow or buy secondhand before purchasing something brand new. Swapping even a few of your new items for a thrifted find or a hand-me-down will go a long way.
Following Lazarovic’s model, we have a few other pointers for how to make your every day purchases more sustainable.
Shopping now a days is really easy, like really easy. You can impulse buy a back massager from across the country on a whim with a promise of one day shipping.
With everything ready to purchase at the touch of a button, it’s hard to wait on items that take a little more patience to create or arrive. The conscious decision to shift your expectations of immediate gratification can be rewarding.
When I chat with the local beekeeper at the farmer’s market each week, I feel more drawn to purchase their honey to support my friend and their business.
The investment in your local farmers, artisans, and businesses is a two-way street of rewards.
Not only are you building connections with your community, but you’re supporting entire livelihoods with your purchases and validation of their creations.
Apps like Shop Local make it easier to scout local businesses in your area to support. Using websites like Nextdoor, Marketplace, or Front Porch Forum are also great ways to buy secondhand and often cheaper items than market value. I’ve asked my neighbors for household items and have found gratification in the kindness my neighbors have extended me.
Minority-owned businesses historically get less traffic, but supporting your community means supporting all your neighbors.
A thriving, sustainable community is built on diversity and ensuring all your neighbors are bolstered.It’s even easy to find such businesses using apps like Eat Okra, Black Nation, or Official Black Wall Street ranging from your neighborhood to across the country.
If you want to take the guessing out of a company’s ethical policies, take a quick peak for a label’s trusted B Corps logo.
B Corps certified products ensure ethically made, environmentally friendly, conscious brands that undergo vigorous testing to acquire the renowned certification. Not only do they do the research for you, but the encircled B is easy to spot on labels once you’re familiar. You can also browse their directory to ensure your favorite and most purchased brands are listed on there.
If you continue buying items from big-box stores and in plastics, you’re using your dollar as your voice. Your dollar is your vote for the brands you want to see on the shelves.
That being said, it can be difficult to research every product you buy. When you’re in the grocery store, are you really going to look into every product of your haul, or are you trying to get out of there as fast as you can?
Do the best you can. Transition slowly. Ask friends for their favorite brands or start where you know you can do easy research, and it will become second nature.
Your standards will change, and your efforts of putting in the work will feel less labored. As you keep buying from companies sourcing ethical products and practicing socially responsible habits, they will hear you and make more. With your money you’ll support the livelihood of both yourself and those around you.