5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Purchase

I’ve been on a bit of a minimalist kick lately. There’s just something about cleaning out your closet that makes you evaluate every purchase you’ve made in the last calendar year.

I prefer to organize and deep clean first thing in the year. There’s something about cold weather that makes me want to nest in my home (probably because it’s too cold outside to go anywhere), it’s after the holidays, and it just feels like a perfect time for reflecting.

5 questions you should ask yourself before making a purchase from www.goingzerowaste.com #minimalism #ecofriendly #zerowaste

As a bonus, Marie Kondo’s tv show Tidying Up came out... so, I mean who wasn’t ready to declutter, organize and spark joy?

I’m pretty happy that the Tidying Up TV show involves no shopping minus gathering a few small boxes for drawer organization. I’m even happier that after following up with a few of the families that participated, their homes have stayed TIDY! 

This means they’re not running out and filling up their new found space - which is great!

In the past, I have definitely gone shopping after decluttering and felt excited that I had space to store all of my new belongings.

I never intentionally went out to shop and fill space, but because I had space I often allowed myself to shop, does that make sense?

I feel a lot of people fall into this mindset. I don’t think many people intentionally buy things they don’t want or don’t love. I think in the moment they think they want and love it, but only with time and space do they realize... they don’t. 

As a former shopaholic, I can tell you that’s how it was for me. I tended to love things in the moment but never really thought about them practically. 

In college, after I sold my books back to the book store, I’d take that money and spend it frivolously. I remember I bought a beautiful pair of heels that were 5” tall... do you know how practical it is to wear 5” heels without a platform? For me, it was not very practical. I wore them a few times, and that was it. 

My instinct was to run to the store for anything and everything I needed, instead of sitting with that want or need and thinking about it. I didn’t want to wait for a solution. I wanted to buy a solution RIGHT NOW which I think is an overall symptom of our society which relies a lot on instant gratification.

I try not to reflect on all of the money I could have saved had I been a bit wiser....

But, on top of all that, I didn’t value things. Things were not something I respected. I viewed things as disposable, mostly because I was buying disposable goods. But, disposable is 100% a mindset, and it’s not a very healthy one.  

5 questions you should ask yourself before making a purchase from www.goingzerowaste.com #minimalism #ecofriendly #zerowaste

1. does it fit my ethics?

This one right off the bat will eliminate A LOT of things I don’t need. I’m not saying every purchase I make is an ethical one, but I do try to make my purchases as ethical as possible.

And, if I need something so bad that I’m willing to sacrifice my ethics for it, then I KNOW it’s something that I NEED.

The most common instance of this scenario is jeans. In most designers ethical ones or not, I have a small waist and an x-large rear. I’m pear shaped, and trying to find pants that fit both areas of my body is a real challenge.

I often resort to buying jeans that aren’t the most ethical simply because they’re what fits.

Before going shopping, try to determine your ethics. Ask yourself if the things you’re about to purchase fit into those ethics.

  • Do you want things to be mostly plastic free?

  • What about slave labor?

  • What about ecological business practices?

I feel like this blog post could be a topic all to itself, but I have talked about this a little bit more in How to Make the BEST Choice for the environment. 

5 questions you should ask yourself before making a purchase from www.goingzerowaste.com #minimalism #ecofriendly #zerowaste

2. would I be willing to pay full price?

Because I do try to opt for ethical purchases, this often means shopping second hand or on sale, because ethical purchases can be really expensive.

Before you go shopping, try to identify how much money it hurts for you to spend? $20, $50, $200? I don’t know what your budget or spending habits are like but anything that costs $50 gives me serious pause. It makes me truly evaluate the item and whether or not I need it.  

I come across a lot of deals when I’m shopping second hand. I come across items I like, maybe an item that’s been on my list for a long time, and maybe that item isn’t quite perfect, but I find myself saying, “Oh, well it’s close to what I’m looking for, and it’s only $8”

Have you ever uttered the phrase, “It’s only X amount of dollars”? 

If you have, then you probably know that phrase means you don’t love it and you definitely DON’T need it.  

So, the first question I ask myself before making a purchase is, “Would I pay full price for this item or would I pay my sacrificial price for this item?” Ask yourself whichever number is higher, and if the answer is no, don’t buy it. 

5 questions you should ask yourself before making a purchase from www.goingzerowaste.com #minimalism #ecofriendly #zerowaste

3. do I need it?

This one is tough because it can be difficult to sort through what we need, a true want, and a temporary want. We want to make sure that we’re eliminating temporary wants because those are the ones that clutter our closets and drawers. 

For more info on this topic be sure to check out my post Why I Wait 30 Days Before Making a Purchase all about setting a personal buy-ban for yourself.

You can pinpoint a true want and need if you give yourself enough space. If you’re still thinking about something weeks or months later, then it’s probably a true want or need. 

5 questions you should ask yourself before making a purchase from www.goingzerowaste.com #minimalism #ecofriendly #zerowaste

4. is this for the person I am or the person I want to be?

Maybe you’ve waited 30 days or months, but still find yourself dreaming about that item. Is that a true want, probably. But, you also need to get real with yourself. Ask yourself the hard question. Is this item for the person I am or the person I want to be.

For instance, I love skirt suits. I LOVE them, but I don’t go to the type of meetings necessary for wearing skirt suits and always feel very out of place when I do wear them. So, no matter how much I want them, I know they’re for the person I want to be vs. the person I am.

In my mind, I’m also excellent at gardening and working out 4 times a week. In actuality, I am NONE of those things.

So, there’s no need for me to go overboard on gardening supplies or to buy 15 pairs of leggings. Owning a few pairs for the few times I do manage to workout before doing laundry is perfect for me.

Speaking of which, check out these 7 eco-friendly activewear brands!

5 questions you should ask yourself before making a purchase from www.goingzerowaste.com #minimalism #ecofriendly #zerowaste

5. what is the end plan?

The last thing I ask myself is about my end plan. Somehow framing the product in it’s full lifecycle beyond just, “I see it; I want it; I buy it.,” helps to create a story and a plan for my purchase.

Because everything you buy, at some point, has to leave your home. Ask yourself:

  • Is this an item worth passing down?

  • Is this an item I would repair or can be repaired?

  • Is this an item that can be recycled?

  • Is this an item that will be sent to the landfill?

  • Is this an item I could resell?

There’s no judgment from me on what the answers may be, but sometime’s it’s helpful to give more context to a purchase.

5 questions you should ask yourself before making a purchase from www.goingzerowaste.com #minimalism #ecofriendly #zerowaste

lastly:

Now, this isn’t a question, but I hope that you’ll wait for the perfect item. Sometimes, it’s just about having enough patience for that perfect item you’ve been looking for to arrive. And when it does, you will be so filled with joy!

Have you asked yourself any of these questions while shopping? Are there any tips and tricks you have to reduce the amount you shop?

Why I Wait 30 Days Before I Make a Purchase

I wait 30 days before making any purchase. I talk about this pretty often on my Instagram feed because I think it’s really important.

I love supporting sustainable businesses, but I also love not buying things because not buying something is one of the most sustainable choices you can make.

Why I wait 30 days before I make a purchase and you should to from www.goingzerowaste.com

I for one am super susceptible to marketing, and I think a lot of us can be. Pretty much every time I find a new TV show, I’m trying to buy their entire wardrobe. Have you seen Timeless because I want all of Lucy’s sweaters. What about Jane the Virgin because I want to live in Petra’s closet.

Marketers have done a great job making us believe we need a new product for every problem or want that we have. Like I don’t need baby blue hot pants - but I WANT SOME.

When I put some separation between me and my want often even a few days, the want dies down and I can make a more rational decision.

When we impulse buy, we tend to forget that we have simple solutions are all around us - it just takes a bit of creative thinking or looking through your drawer to realize you already had a navy blue sweater.

You can read more about this under the header Know Thy Wardrobe in the post 6 Tips for Secondhand Shopping.

Recently, I wanted an electric kettle for my office.

See, I like tea. A lot. And, I was working at the kitchen table instead of my office because I was close to the stove/kettle/tea.

When I’m in my new office space, if I were to go downstairs and make myself a cup of tea everytime I wanted tea, I’d spend all of my time downstairs instead of working.

An electric kettle would have solved this problem, but before I bought one, I decided to wait 30 days to see if I could come up with a better solution - AND I DID!

I had a double insulated wine bottle I have never used before and it's PERFECT.

It holds an entire french press worth of tea and holds heat better than any other bottle I have (I think because of how skinny it's neck is)

It takes me around two hours to drink this whole thing, and at that point, I feel like it makes sense to go downstairs grab a snack or stretch and make put the kettle on to make a new batch.

I would highly encourage anyone to adopt the practice of waiting before buying!

The next time you want something, just tell yourself to wait until next month. Don’t write it down cause if you forget, then clearly you didn’t need it in the first place.

For more tips, watch the video below.

5 Reasons Tiny Home Living Was Awful

Tiny home living is not for everyone. I thought tiny home living was going to be AWESOME! Then I lived in a tiny home for a year....  

5 Reasons Tiny Home Living Was Awful from www.goingzerowaste.com #tinyhome #zerowaste #minimalliving

I was so convinced that I was ready for tiny home living, I was looking at buying an RV so I could quit my full-time job and travel the US.

I mean, that sounds pretty awesome right? Travel the world, blog, and have no boss?? 

But after living in a 325 sq. ft. tiny home, I can attest... it was not that awesome. In fact it made my life pretty miserable.

As I'm sure you know, layout is everything. Living in a tiny home that's laid out well, might have been awesome, but The house I was living in was NOT laid out very well.

This tiny home was built in the 30s. There were three small windows and even on a bright sunny day, you'd have to have all the lights on in the house because it was just dark. 

The kitchen and bathroom weren't that bad.... but I definitely could have gone for some more counter space in the kitchen. I really like to cook and meal prep, and only having one small wedge of counter space made it difficult to prep large quantities of food. 

There also wasn't an appropriate dining area. It was hard to fit two people at the table.... so we definitely weren't able to entertain which is something I love. 

Another huge downside was not having a defined living and sleeping space. My bed was my couch, desk, and sleeping area. It was rough... especially rough on my posture. Add all of that to the lack of windows, and it was just a recipe for disaster. 

I started working for Pela Case freelance in February so I was working from home all day....

2 adults and a 50lb dog in a 325 sq. ft. is just really tight quarters. 

I don't regret making the choice to give tiny home living a try, but it's definitely something I'm glad to be leaving behind.

A couple of the points that I left out of the video are schedules and being creative. 

schedules: 

Justin and I are both on completely opposite schedules. He's a night owl and I'm an early riser. When we were living in the tiny home he was finishing his audio engineering degree and working at Fantasy Studios. 

He would often be working late night recording sessions. When you walk into the tiny home you walk straight into the bedroom/living room so he'd come home when I was trying to sleep. It would wake up the dog and get her all excited. She would need to go out.

Then I would wake him up when I tried to make breakfast and get work done in the morning. It was just a mess. 

being creative: 

The tiny home definitely forced me to be creative, like having to take photos in the bathroom at 4 PM with a piece of card stock on top of the commode because it was the only well lit area in the house. 

And, while that worked sometimes, other times it just didn't and I think my blog suffered because of it. I wasn't able to take pictures easily (lack of light) and I just felt stifled. I didn't feel happy, positive, and upbeat like I normally do and I think that came through in my work. 

For the other five reasons I hated tiny home living, watch the video below.

What do you think? Do you love tiny home living? Hate it? Willing to give it a try? 

Check out my pre-tiny zero waste home tour and my post-tiny zero waste home tour to see where I moved!