Buy Lightly

Both Nikki and I watched the ‘crash course’ with the point being fairly clear, whilst it’s pretty tempting and lets face it satisfying to blame the corporations, the reality is that it’s us, the everyday consumers that drive the never-ending lust for goods and the destruction and energy that goes into their creation. Yeh I know it’s more complicated than that but the aim of ‘buying lightly’ is to think about what little changes everyone can make to reframe our current ‘more and bigger is better’ reality into something that doesn’t lead us towards global destruction!

So this is our plan:

  • Buy necessary. Only buy things that you actually need. There’s not too many of us who don’t have loads of stuff that we’ve bought and then never used. Put your ‘buy necessary’ hat on and go for a wander through IKEA or watch some ads on TV and realise that you are being conned into buying stuff you know you don’t need. NO…..that SUV doesn’t make you more adventurous and drinking coke wont suddenly result in a spontaneous party full of attractive people on your roof.
  • Buy Quality: Okay so you really need something, cool! So do your research and buy a high quality product. Sure it’s going to cost more, but it will last longer, you’ll look after it and most likely even when it does break it will be easier to repair rather than just ditch and buy another one.
  • Buy Local. There are people with amazing creative skills to make really cool stuff all around you, but they go screaming out of business unless you support them. So if you need something, ask around, check the interweb…you might be amazed to find there is somebody who can make exactly what you want…and much better quality than you could buy buy from a cheap imported chain store.
  • Buy Sustainable: Think about what you are buying, is there a more sustainable version of the same thing? if so buy it. Do you need to wipe your bum with virgin timber? or is recycled office paper a better option?
  • Don’t Buy: Can you fix it, make it, repurpose it, borrow it, or even buy it second hand. There’s a whole world of sharing out there….check out thesharehood if you don’t believe me. Sharing things not only makes complete sense it’s a great way to engage with those around you.
  • Don’t buy oil. Oil is one of the most amazing substances around…and it’s finite…once it’s gone its gone! It can be made into just about anything like, I don’t know, dialysis machines, medicines and a whole range of plastics that do really important things. So the need to walk away from your cafe day after day with a plastic container, plastic bag and plastic knife and fork as you walk back to work only makes sense if it hasn’t occured to you to take ayour own containers.

Alright so that’s the preachy bit of buying lightly. From this point on we’ll be adding stories about how we’ve tried to change our purchasing habits to make less of an impact on the environment and consume less. We’ll also be asking for any of your great ideas about what works for you.

5 replies to Buy Lightly
  1. We won’t run out of oil. There’s lots in the ground and we can make more through a variety of means. What will run out is the insanely cheap oil we’ve been burning through at a rate of tens of millions of barrels per day, so conservation still makes sense. As does avoiding burning it and adding more carbon emissions. So I guess if you wanted to reduce that you’d look at transport and power.

    1. I’m not sure “lots” but certainly we wont actually ‘run out’ of oil, it will be an economic and energy balance question where it will not be worth the money or the energy expenditure to access the remaining oil. As far as running out of insanely cheap energy it seems to depend on which stats you choose but just on a quick check of oil production EROEI (Energy returned on energy investment), which measures amount of energy per unit you get divided by the energy you put in, suggests that insanely cheap oil is well and truly finished. Some of the stats that I found suggested (in a really simplistic way and we’ll go into this more another day) that EROEI has gone from 1200:1 in 1919 to 5:1 in 2007 (Guilford, Hall, O’ Connor and Cleveland, 2011 (don’t know if these stats are peer reviewed)). These are US stats and like I say there’s more to it than this simplistic stat but I haven’t seen any stats that disagree with this general trend. I’ve also struggled to find good stats for some of the new oil production methods or conversion approaches (eg gas to liquid, coal to liquid) but the ones I can suggest low EROEI returns, my feeling is that they are unlikely to be a ‘new oil panacea’. There’s lots more discussion on this at

      Either way oil is an immensely useful substance with huge potential to be used in critical ways for future development, and will at some point become in short supply. To use it to double wrap chewing gum, to heat/cool warehouses so that we can eat mangoes in the middle of winter or to drive a single occupant in an SUV 1 kilometre to the supermarket just seems daft.

  2. As a good little kidsmatter employee I just read a review from Australian childhood foundation that found 88% of children feel companies try to sell then things they don’t need, 74% felt there should be less advertising and 85% feel a lot of pressure to buy things like music , games and clothes. Removing our TV and altering your shopping exposure your children will hopefully feel less of is pressure. A massive task for the average parent to overcome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s