TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY … THAT IS THE QUESTION

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Environmental and household tips by Bernadette Thomas

I have recently moved house (I can hear the sympathetic groans echoing around the suburbs), and apart from the shock of having to leave our home after seven plus years, the thing that sent my blood pressure through the roof was the amount of ‘stuff’ we had managed to accumulate during that time.

I pride myself on being a conscious consumer, buying ethical products, second hand, organic, recycled, reused, fair trade etc. Whilst cleaning out for the move, I took a good look at all the things that had somehow snuck into our house over the years and that I now had to find a new home for.

There are lots of ways to give your stuff a second life instead of ending up in landfill: hold a garage sale (it’s a great way to meet your neighbours); donate to an op shop (some will come and collect from you); Buy Swap and Sell Facebook pages; donate to families in need (www.stkildamums.org); Freecycle; Gumtree; refugee networks (West Welcome Wagon and Hobsons Bay Refugee Network); recycling at your local transfer station and tip shop (check your local council website).

But how do you stop all this stuff from ending up your house and your life?

Firstly I ask myself, “Do I really need this?” Sometimes, since 
I have a fondness for particular things (I really love a novelty teaspoon) this is a hard question to answer. Recently I needed to use a drill. Before I raced off to the shops I thought about a couple of things. How often would I use it? Could I buy one second hand? Could I borrow it from someone, rent it from a tool library, or find it on Sharehood (www.friendswiththings. com.au)? I also thought about whether I could do the job without a drill – as it turned out I could.

If I decide to buy something new, I ask myself a second question: “How long will it last?” Like most people, I like to save money and the environment. If I went to the hardware shop to buy that drill, my impulse might be to buy the cheapest one then go home and finish the job. A little research or a chat with the sales person will reveal the advantages of buying something that is long lasting, repairable and with replaceable parts. I also look at the item and its packaging for any signs of recycling.

If you want to stop the stuff, stop and think: do I need it, can I borrow it or get it second hand, if I buy it how long will it last? It’s a work in progress. Hopefully next time I move house I’ll realise I didn’t need that Lady Di themed tea set after all!

 

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