November 24, 2019

Do I really need this?

In a few days it will be Black Friday, a perfect symbol of overconsumption, and a synonym for the overproduction of goods involving tremendous amounts of often non-renewable resources, and pollution. On the last Friday of November, and sometimes right through to the following Monday, many brands offer incredible discounts and make sure we know about it by bombarding us with adverts by email and on social networks, not to mention in the shops themselves.

For those waiting to buy something they needed, these sales are a chance to get it at a better price. But sadly, it’s often an opportunity to buy more than necessary, including objects that we really didn’t need at all.

We are grateful to @partagercestsympa et Juliette Eynard for the following flowchart (translated with permission) which may help us all think before we purchase something new.

The first question to ask is : WHY ?
Is it a WANT or a NEED ?
If you NEED it:
  • Is it because you already have one/some, but you want more, or you’ve run out, or you don’t have any yet ? And will you use it frequently or occasionally ?
  • If you will only use it occasionally, maybe you could borrow one (from neighbours, friends, etc ? or rent one ? Or perhaps you could look into buying it second-hand. Buying new is the final option if none of the others work.
  • If you use it regularly, is there some alternative item you could use instead, rather than buying something new (perhaps you already have a similar item that can be repurposed, or could make one, or find some other zero-waste alternative).
  • If the one you already own has stopped working, remember to check the warranty and try to get it repaired before considering buying second-hand, or new as a last resort.
If it's a WANT, will this new object allow you to experience or accomplish something cool, or not much ?
  • Check your feelings first: is fear of missing out a major factor here?
  • Or it it because it’s cheap, it’s in the sales, the marketing is very effective, … marketing wouldn’t be such big business if it didn’t work after all!
  • If you can answer yes, the item might not be worth your money.
On the other hand, maybe it really will help you do something cool and interesting. Great! It's still worth checking whether you feel you want it more than you want to prevent any pollution linked to its production. You might ask yourself the following:
What would happen if I didn't buy it right now, or at all? Would I get some satisfaction out of resisting the urge ? Out of finding a more eco-friendly alternative ? Out of living more simply ?

If you speak French, you can watch a video explaining the original infographic here :

Over the next few days, we’ll be looking at options for repairing, borrowing, renting, and buying second-hand, as well as ways to buy new but in a more responsible way.