Let’s talk about this amazing pyramid “Buyerarchy of Needs” from Sarah Lazarovic inspired by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. One look at it and you know how simple and self explanatory it is. We all deal with our personal buyerarchy of needs all the time with money being in limited supply to all of us (well… most of us anyway). What this pyramid achieves in an instant is to show us all options we have before we buy something.
Now no one is saying buying is bad. However, wouldn’t it be nice for our pocket and our planet if we buy less items and less often? After all we do have limited money and limited planets to live on (just one to be precise). Let’s see what we can do before we absolutely have to buy.
Picture Credit : Sarah Lazarovic
Use What You Have
Before buying anything, this is the first thing most of the time we do anyway. Do I need another shirt? Does my child need yet another plush toy? Do we need ten different flavours of herbal tea when ultimately our favorites are only two or three flavours? Can I use the same gorgeous dress for a different party or event? Most of the times, we really don’t have
the need for a new item because we already have it in a different avatar in our home. The question is do we have something already that can be used instead of buying?
Libraries can be used to borrow books. Specialized items can always be borrowed if you already don’t have them in your home. Let’s say you want to go picnicking and you realise you don’t have a picnic basket. Can you borrow it from a friend? You are travelling and you don’t have a suitcase but your brother has one. Need a ladder to fix something? Can you borrow it? Most of the time, lot of regular things can be borrowed from family, close friends and neighbours. So why not economize our limited supply of money! Here’s an article on what you can borrow before you go to the store. https://www.wisebread.com/the-best-10items-to-borrow
By the way, if you are borrowing an item too often… Perhaps it is time to buy it.
Sometimes we have a perfectly good piece of equipment or an article that we don’t use anymore and instead need something else. Well why not swap it or barter it? After all exchanging saves money and reduces our carbon footprint. If you do little bit of research on the internet, you would be surprised with what all you can swap: Equipment, clothes, accessories, books, holiday houses, skills, cars, musical instruments, and much more. The Guardian conveniently lists top websites for this: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2009/mar/01/top-10-swap-websites
Technically, thrift purchase is still buying but you are buying second-hand items. You can get designer clothes in thrift stores for up to 90% less than their initial price tag. Not everyone likes buying second-hand clothes though. However, you can still do thrift shopping for furniture, books, cars, games, cookware, décor items, etc. Visit some yard sales or garage sales in your neighbourhood to get thrifty.
Sometimes perhaps the best way to get something is by making your own. Why not indulge in some DIY? It is a wonderful way of letting your creativity get the best of you. It is fun and
personal. Recently, I made a piggy bank for by daughter from a can of cookies tin. It costed me exactly zero money and zero carbon footprint. Another thing you can do before buying is re-purposing stuff. Our homes are usually filled with items and stuff that are begging to be re-purposed. Old clothes can be used as cleaning and dusting rags, old tooth brushes can be used for cleaning combs or as scrubs for hard to reach places. Making and re-purposing saves so much money at far reduced or almost no cost to the environment.
At last, at the top of the buyerarchy is “buy.” When all options are exhausted; one should, of course, buy. Buying is not bad. What is profound about “buying as a last option” is how it saves a lot of money and a lot of carbon footprint. It is a superpower that we have – a tool that should be used wisely. Buy things that reflect your personal values – support the right kind of material, labour and resources used in producing what you need and are about to buy.
Written by Ushshri Gaddam