Shop and Help the Planet

At first glance, the title of this post may appear as a contradiction; how can you recommend consumerism as a way of helping the planet?  It is more about recognizing our individual needs when shopping.  It means that before we make a purchase we evaluate it from four sides – the financial side, the economics side, the giving side,and the environmental side.  How is that?  Just simple, by ensuring that you make the absolute best of your purchase. This is how I am learning to live my life now. 

The Financial Aspect – It is as easy as asking yourself if you can afford the item without going into debt.  It is for your ultimate financial well being, and your family’s financial health.  If you have to charge it or cannot pay it by the end of the month, when the bill comes, then don’t buy it.  Another application to this side is by evaluating your need for the purchase – do I need this? Do I already own a version of it?  Do I really need another pair of stilettos or should I cushion my savings or emergency fund this time? 

The Economics Aspect – Think of the Country you live in.  Purchase goods that are made in your country.  Stimulate the economy that way, by supporting the small Mom and Pops, local businesses and farmers, and by buying homemade.

The Giving Aspect – There are companies that will give a portion of the purchase price of a product to a good cause.  See if you can choose products that contribute to a good cause. 
In addition, before discarding something, see if you can find someone who needs it and give it to that person.   

The Environmental Aspect – This is about reducing – reusing – recycling – repurposing.  Thinking of other ways to use items or repurpose items can be fun.  It fuels your creativity.  In addition, it gives things a second chance. Buy from antique shops or flea markets.  If you don’t want to spend money at all, you can visit the free section on Craigslist, eBay classifieds, or local newspaper, and you will be amazed at the amount of free goodies.  
You will be preventing these things from ending up in the landfills.  Whether you use these items for yourself or transform/alter them to resell, you are helping the environment. 

Next time, before you head up to do some shopping, see if you can incorporate one or more of these steps into your shopping agenda.

Take the road less traveled and make a difference.

The Simple Life – Focusing on What’s Truly Important

Years ago, I went to an outside flea market and an old framed print caught my attention.  It was on a table, amongst many other better items, and not even showing much.  The price was $5.00.  I pondered for a few minutes and decided not to buy it, a few seconds later, after I started walking, I turned back and bought it.  I have it hanging on the second floor wall and as I go up and down the stairs I glance at it.

The old picture frame is in very shabby condition, with scratches in the wood, and the paper that used to cover the back (like in the old way of framing) is gone.  It has an old and rusty twisted wire attached with some screws in the back, and the poor thing looks like it has seen better days long time ago.  However, the print on the inside is covered by the intact and in great shape heavy glass and is in very good condition.

The print is called “When Daddy’s Ship Comes Home” by Bernard Pothast.  It shows a very poor family admiring a toy that the Dad brought home from one of his trips.  What captivates me about this picture is the few items that the home has, only the most essential things, and very few, limited to the table and chairs where they are sitting and a spoon rack with 3 spoons on it.  Now, there seems to be four people in this family, the mother, two kids, and the Father, who obviously is mostly at sea.  But things in this house come in three.  The well behaved kids, mesmerized by the object that the Dad is showing them also captures my attention, as so is the attention that this family is giving to the bread winner of the home.  They have so little, they are so poor, but yet they manage to focus on what it is important at the moment – Dad is home.
Dad may have decided to bring other type of item, a necessary item, maybe another spoon, or another piece of furniture,or even a big turkey – however, he managed to bring something that the kids would be mesmerized with, and will remember.  He was making the best of his stay with the kids, until his ship sails again.

It is obvious why this picture speaks tons of words by just looking at it, it is so simple, yet says so much.  For me the message is “to live simply and focus on what is truly important.”

Here is a picture of the scene.