Choose not to be coerced by marketing and hype

From the Better World Handbook: “Everything you own owns you.  Everything you buy, you must maintain, store, repair, clean and perhaps insure.  Our stuff quickly becomes a psychological burden.”

Black Friday, the biggest shopping frenzy of the year, is upon us.  It’s billed as being great for the economy, but it’s a big source of clutter, waste and indebtedness.

So here are three questions to consider when you feel tempted by a ‘great deal’:

  1. Do I really need it? The honest answer is often no.
  2. Will it really improve my life? Or is that notion just clever marketing on the part of the seller?
  3. If I buy this, what will I need to get rid of to make space for it?

And here are two strategies to help you shop wisely:

  1. Take a shopping list, and stick to it; don’t fall prey to clever advertising, fancy displays or other bells and whistles.
  2. Avoid impulse purchases, because you’ll often regret them later. If you feel the urge, promise yourself you’ll buy it next week – if you still feel the urge.

And finally, here’s one guaranteed way to happily get by with less stuff: borrow things you’ll only need rarely, like tools, movies or trucks.  Get to know your neighbours and your library.

Hear comedian George Carlin’s take on stuff in this classic routine (language warning) – and happy, Green Friday!

Six painless things you can do to reduce plastic waste

Arg – plastic: it’s the best material ever, for all the amazing uses it has.  And it’s the worst material ever, for it’s persistence in our environment.

Plastic never breaks down; it just breaks into tinier and tinier pieces, and much of it washes into our oceans – and now we’re seeing it show up in food chains.

As with most things environmental, prevention is better than cure – so here are six painless ways you can reduce plastic waste:

  • Give up plastic shopping bags and resolve to use only reusable bags or boxes
  • Skip straws, plastic plates, foam cups and other disposables
  • Avoid bottled water; use your own refillable water bottle (and start saving too!)
  • Choose products with the least plastic packaging when you shop
  • Recycle everything you can. Globally, only 18 cent of plastic is recycled; why not do your part to help improve that?
  • Don’t litter

Check out this National Geographic article for more about plastics.