7 questions to ask yourself before buying a new product
its name suggests, the consumer society has conditioned us to satisfy all our needs and desires by buying new products.
However, this systematic consumption of goods and services poses a number of problems:
- It requires you to spend a lot of money…
- New products have to be manufactured and then transported, which implies a high expenditure of energy and mining resources. And therefore a lot of pollution.
- By doing so, you participate and depend on a system that you don’t necessarily support (neoliberalism, growth at all costs, etc.)
Fortunately, the overconsumption of new products is not a fatality !
It is possible to strongly limit our purchases by asking ourselves the following questions before buying anything :
1. Is it urgent?
The habit of “everything, right away” is strongly rooted in our culture. And we are constantly subjected to temptations, via shop windows, advertisements, fashions, suggestions and various promotions.
That’s why the first question to ask yourself before buying is, in my opinion : Do I really need it NOW?
In reality, there are very few purchases that could not wait at least a few days. So, whenever possible, hold off !
A day, a week, a month… Allow a period of time that you think is appropriate to think about your purchase. This period will often allow you to realize that in the end, you didn’t really want to buy this.
And above all, don’t fall into the trap of limited-time “super promos” . It’s a proven marketing tool, designed to create a sense of urgency among potential customers… You’ll always find a good deal!…
Besides, promotions on the same products come back regularly, you just have to be a little patient… And you’ll save a LOT more money in the long run, if you decide never to give in to these promotions again when they come up.
It’s really worth it to systematically ask yourself the question of the real urgency of your need, because it allows you to put things into perspective and limit your impulse purchases.
2. Don’t I already have it ?
Most of us already have a lot of material goods. And it is not uncommon to have 2, 3, 5 or more objects that perform more or less the same function.
Before acquiring anything new, ask yourself: won’t it duplicate something I already have ?
- The garment you see in a shop window and will hardly ever wear is a classic. If you already have tons of clothes in good condition at home, it’s probably not worth buying new ones !
- That little restaurant looks nice, but you’ve already done one this week and you have plenty of food to cook at home…
- One click is all it takes to buy this or that book, movie or video game… But have you done a thorough review of what you already own and haven’t read/seen/finished yet ?
- Do you really need a computer AND a tablet AND a smartphone AND a connected TV, etc., to surf the net ?
And if the item you already own is out of order, think first about repairing it or having it repaired ! We all have the reflex to throw away products and replace them as soon as they don’t work anymore. This is a habit to be avoided as much as possible, if you want to reduce pollution and save money !
3. How could I do without it ?
We are quickly convinced that we MUST have the latest smartphone or other trendy gadget… And why not buy such and such a product, so furiously trendy ?
Maybe we should always ask ourselves why we want to buy something :
- What will it really do for us? Is it useful and relevant ?
- How will it really improve our life?…
Only, when we ask the problem like that, we always find good reasons to go to the cash drawer! So I think we should rather take the opposite approach. And so ask yourself : How could I live without one ?
If you use your creativity, you’ll see that you can live very nicely without the new iTruc or the latest super-cooker…
The unnecessary products then become very clear to you. It’s much more efficient to limit your purchases!
4. Could I do it myself?
Well, if you have come to this question, it means that you have identified a very clear need and that doing without it would be a big hindrance to your well-being.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy it !
First, ask yourself if you would not be able to make, cook, or do yourself the good or service you are about to buy.
- Everyone needs to eat. But instead of buying ready-made breads, pizzas, yoghurts, jams, etc., you could prepare them at home (if possible, at least partially, with products from the garden).
- Do you have to do some work in your home? If the know-how of a craftsman is precious in certain cases, it is undoubtedly possible for you to learn how to do certain things… and why not by using local, recuperated, ecological materials…
- The same goes for anything “low tech”: furniture, decorative elements, household products, etc. can usually be made yourself, easily and at very low cost… or even free of charge thanks to recycling.
- Think also about clothes, that it is often possible to sew, mend
Homemade products are an often neglected but extremely effective alternative. You know what you are producing, what products you are using and it is usually very, very inexpensive.
This is also true for gifts: those that are handmade, in a personalized way, convey much more emotion than a simple object bought in a store or a hypermarket. Here’s an article where I suggest some handmade and/or zero waste gift ideas.
Sure, all this requires a bit of time… But rather than working more to buy more and depending entirely on the consumer society, you could invest some of your time to directly produce what you need. The funny thing is that you’ll soon get the hang of it!
5. Can I borrow it or have it given to me ?
Even when you can’t make a product or service yourself, it is often possible to get it without paying anything.
For starters, you don’t always have to own something to use it. If you need a tool for only a few hours a year, it is smarter to ask your friends, family and neighbors to lend it to you ! Furthermore, with the abundance of consumer goods, many people are ready to give away items they no longer need.
Make sure you ask your friends and family or go to sites to check if the product you are looking for is not available for free !
6. Can I rent or buy it second hand?
Can’t find anyone to give or lend you what you need? Not so fast!…
Before buying new, ask yourself if it’s really relevant. In most cases, the same product rented (if you only need it once in a while) or bought second hand
will do very well !
There are a lot of organizations specialized in the second hand market:
- Associations: Red Cross, recycling centers, etc.
- Stores: thrift shops, buy-resell and/or reconditioned specialists…
- Flea markets and garage sales are also events where you can find very good products at a low price
- Internet sites, like the specialist Vinted, Ebay etc.
By adopting this habit, you will save a lot of money…
And you will avoid unnecessarily soliciting polluting and not necessarily very ethical production chains !
7. Does this product respect people and the environment?
Well, here we are: you have done the rounds of the alternatives and this time you are more or less forced to buy a new product…
In this case, take the time to check where and how the product was manufactured.
- Is it made locally ? Are the ingredients / raw materials local too?
- Is the production method environmentally friendly ?
- Again, what about the raw materials and ingredients ?
- And what about the people involved ?
- Have people been exploited to produce, sell and transport these products ?
- Are their working conditions safe and decent ?
- Are they paid properly ?
- Is it harmful to use? Will it not harm me or my loved ones by creating danger, addiction, health problems, etc. ?
Of course, it is rare that a new product is perfectly clean, green and ethical. In the vast majority of cases, it will have taken energy to get it from its place of production to the store and to your home…
But it is often possible to limit the damage by doing your homework and trying to make the best choice
If you take care to ask yourself all these questions before each purchase and to act accordingly, you should quickly see the results in terms of savings
! And of course, you will have the satisfaction of acting in a way that is more respectful of people and the environment.
Finally, don’t hesitate to share on our social networks your tips and questions on how to avoid buying new products!