Thursday, February 2, 2012

Step 2 - Necessity

When you go to purchase an item, no matter where it is from, think twice before you do so, and ask yourself if you need it or not. Can you live without it? Do you want to live without it? Is there a way to buy it second-hand? 

This may be the most difficult step because it forces us to question our needs versus our wants. In a culture where we are able to fulfill most of our desires with minimal effort, it will take a good deal of willpower to step back from that culture and question these desires. But in doing so, we will gain a great deal of understanding about what we need to survive, what we need to feel comfortable, and what we want for pure enjoyment. This doesn't mean forgoing everything we have come to enjoy, however. If you're a coffee drinker, you will probably make the decision that coffee is a necessity. Or if you adore avocados, but live in a cold-weather climate that doesn't have the ability to grow avocados, then you will continue to buy them at the grocer. In order for us to re-evaluate our needs, it doesn't mean forgoing all comforts, just limiting them. It is also key to understand that even if you do keep items like coffee and avocados in your diet, there is still the opportunity to localize your purchases. Instead of buying avocados from Mexico, buy them from California. Find a local coffee roaster within your state. This way you are still supporting American businesses, while giving yourself a level of comfort.

Buying second-hand is also a fantastic way to get the things you want, and the things you need, in a more sustainable fashion. A nice comfortable chair is not always a necessity, but that doesn't mean you don't still want it. In that case, visit a Salvation Army, Goodwill, or become a member of Freecycle. Buying second-hand keeps unwanted items out landfills while providing us with the things we desire to maintain a level of comfort. Also, keep in mind when you are getting rid of items you no longer need, to donate them to the aforementioned places,  passing them on to the next person, and again, keeping them out of the landfills.

Consuming locally is important this day of age. Consuming only what we need is also vital. When we ship our foods and goods from all over the world we are using up natural resources that we no longer have to spare, we contribute to pollution, and we are giving our money to foreign businesses and industry's. Keeping our money home, within the country, will help build a stronger economy that can support us. Unfortunately, we live in a world where our food and goods are global commodity's, so finding what we need locally is not easy, and not always possible. But when it is, we should make the effort. When it is not, we should pause to question whether or not we need it, and whether or not we can find it used. Just pausing to question our choices, our needs, our wants, and our desires, makes us more conscious consumers.

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