“Often when looking at a mass of things for sale, he would say to himself, ‘How many things I have no need of!’” – Diogenese Laertius on Socrates in Lives of the Eminent Philosophers
Yes, over 2,400 years ago, the philosopher Socrates was going to the market and finding many things offered that he didn’t really need! He was using the 4th R: Reject! How many times have you had that same feeling? You were at a store, you had an item in your hand, you were headed toward the check-out, and suddenly you thought, “I don’t really need this.”
When it comes to shopping for things we may want, but don’t necessarily need, it’s a good idea to think before heading to the check-out counter. The Center for a New American Dream’s Conscious Consumerism program invites all of us to ask questions similar to these as we shop:
- Is this something I need?
- Do I already own something that could serve the same purpose?
- Can I borrow one, find one used, or make one instead of buying new?
- Was it made locally?
- Was it made with environmentally preferable materials?
- Will it serve more than one purpose?
- Will it be easy and cost-effective to maintain?
- Does it come in excessive packaging?
- Can I recycle or compost it when I’m done with it?
- If I’m still not sure, can I wait a month before deciding to buy it?
In asking and answering these 10 questions, we may ultimately decide to buy many things that we want. But when we do so, we’ll be selecting them for their utility or for their capacity to enrich our experiences and enjoyment. Instead of buying on impulse, we’ll be buying with intention.
When we choose to consume more consciously, we will probably also save money and create less waste that we must reuse, recycle, or dispose.
Photo credit: © iStock.com | Yoeml