Challenge Day 4: Reducing waste by buying less

Today’s goal for the Hungry Harvest 30-Day Challenge is no shopping for the day. I’ve been honoring “Buy Nothing Day” in place of Black Friday for probably two decades now, so going a day without buying anything isn’t a big deal to me. And, to be honest, aside from something like a cup of coffee, it could just mean that I put off buying something until another day.

Online shopping and fast, cheap shipping have made it easier than ever to impulse buy, and I am just as susceptible as anyone else. But I find if I slow down and ask myself a few questions, I can make sure that I’m only purchasing things when I really need to.

  • Am I replacing something that can be repaired?
  • Could I use something I already have instead? 
  • Can I borrow it instead of buying it? Libraries are amazing resources for books, music, movies, and educational materials. There are also tool libraries in many places — some at public libraries and some run by nonprofits. The tool library at my local library branch also has items like specialty cake pans that you might otherwise buy and use once or twice. And, of course, you can always ask a friend or neighbor!
  • Can I get it used? Buying used items from thrift stores, yard sales, and local yard sale websites helps save you money and keep good things out of the trash. Plus, it can be a lot of fun! Your community probably also has a Freecycle and/or Buy Nothing group where people offer useful items for free to their neighbors. For kids clothing and toys, there are often local sales and swaps.
  • Do I really need it right now? One of the biggest ways I curb impulse buying online is to add something to my “cart” but not check out right away. If I come back to it in a day or two and still feel like it’s something I need and want, I can go ahead with it. For a site like Amazon, where I might buy a few household items or gifts on a one-month period, I try to wait until I have multiple things to purchase, to cut down on shipping boxes and packing materials.
  • Is this item built to last? This can be challenging if you have limited means, but I have been trying to invest more in good quality clothing and other items that are built to last, rather than buying things that are cheaper but will wear out quickly and wind up in the waste stream sooner.

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