Notes on consumerism on Earth day: Sometimes you just don’t need it


I treat everything as if it was a tattoo. If in three months I am still thinking about getting it, then I’ll get it".

In recent years we have all become way more aware of the importance of sustainability, ethical consumption and low to no waste. The world is little by little becoming a more friendly space thanks to the efforts of some, but what if it wasn’t an effort? Here’s how I do my part, it wasn’t a lifestyle change and it required no materials at all.

I have always hated spending money, I treasure the money I make and only enjoy spending it in some specific things: travelling, friends and food. On the other hands, I had the great luck of not being materialistic, possessing things doesn’t give me the rush it seems to give to other people. This all comes naturally to me, but in the last years, sharing my position with some people around me, I’ve come to the conclusion that pretty much anyone could be this way.

There’s science behind the happiness linked to buy things even the casual shopper finds it challenging to exercise self-control. Researchers at Stanford found that when you see pictures of items you’d like to buy, a region of your brain with dopamine receptors is activated, making you have a sudden rush of happiness.

But dopamine rushes are not a long lasting form of happiness, it’s just a temporal fix, which has become way easier to get now that shopping online is such an easy project.

Here are some tricks I tell people when they ask me how I save money or how I don’t consume in excess.

First of all, think about why you’re buying stuff or wishing you had it.

Sometimes we give clothes and objects qualities than they don’t really hold, but that we think we’ll achieve having it. Confusing? Let me give you an example.

You want to start running and you go online and fill your shopping cart with sport shoes, sport clothes, a special water bottle and a mobile phone holder. Not only that but you grab two of each piece of clothing so you can have a spare when the first one is dirty. Yes, it does make sense but… what do you NEED? The running shoes. That’s it, you for sure have some sport pants and an old t shirt to start running. Once it’s a habit, think about getting the equipment that you need as you need it.

How badly do you want it? I personally don’t buy anything unless it’s being on my mind for a quite long time. I treat everything as if it was a tattoo. If in three months I am still thinking about getting it, then I’ll get it.

Avoid online shopping, Online selllers know how to make you want things, A great way to know if you actually want it and are not falling for a great sellers is ask yourself: Am I willing to search this product locally? Would you get dressed, walk the streets of your city and find that same product on a physical shop? If the answer is yes, go and find it locally! Help a business around you! If the answer is no, then you don’t really need or want it that bad.

See? Most of the time is about thinking about it. And it doesn’t only help your savings, but also saving the planet.

As stated in: “Consumerism” and environment: does consumption behaviour affect environmental quality? By Carlo Orecchia and Pietro Zoppoli.

Following Duchin (1998) most environmental degradation can be traced to the behaviour of consumers either directly, through activities like the disposal of garbage or the use of cars, or indirectly through the production activities undertaken to satisfy them. This is why we believe that a consumption-based approach is a more appropriate measure of global environmental impact than PCI. It enables us to evaluate not only the burden of human activity on the environment but also how shifts in consumption patterns and consumers’ life styles can stress or improve such burden

Orecchia, C., & Zoppoli, P. (2007). “Consumerism” and environment: does consumption behaviour affect environmental quality?

Most of the times life is about grey areas, we don’t have to go full on minimalist or zero waste to make a change, sometimes it only takes a little of self reflection!