Made In The U.S.A.

Distinguishing between want and need.

In Adventures on February 27, 2009 at 12:27 am

I figured it out: part of buying responsibly is buying less.

Well, duh, I sort of assumed that from the beginning. What I mean is, actually doing without. Reevaluating what it means to NEED something. For example:

I thought I “needed” a new cell phone because the 7 button is intermittently working. But I’m waiting. Presumably waiting until next year when I can buy an imported phone.

But that’s cheating! I should just buy a refurbished phone–from the junkyard of phones online at Zendoo. That’s really reducing consumption, by buying something secondhand.

The real key, though, is waiting until I NEED to buy a new phone to buy that refurbished phone. My 7 button doesn’t work all the time, but it’s really not that much of an inconvenience at this point. At the first sign of it acting up, I immediately thought: “Oh! I need a new phone!”

But I don’t! I took the littlest imperfection as an opportunity to buy something. Buying’s fun, right? But it’s dumb and irresponsible too. I shouldn’t buy junk I don’t need just because it’s fun. It’s where consumptive tendencies come from–at least in my house. I like to buy!

The same thing with my car. I sure could use a new car. It would be nice, even. My car is 7 years old this month. That’s a nice long life, right? I bought it new, and drove it long, and sort of figured late last year that I should start shopping for a new one. But then the economy tanked and I thought, you know what? I’ll make it last.

The real benefit, though, was realizing the difference between wanting a new car and needing a new car. Sure, at a certain point it won’t make sense to put dollar upon dollar into this old Hyundai. But until then, as long as it works as fine (if not quiet as clean and sharp and sparkling) as when it was new, then I have a hard time justifying needing a new car. I might WANT one, but that’s not enough.

So if I can wait until I actually NEED a new cell phone before I actually BUY a new cell phone, I’ve already won. The same goes for the car. And everything else I own.

It’s probably even more important for one’s personal well being to be able to recognize the difference between want and need than it is to buy a locally made product for environmental and financial and societal gains. The combination of the two? Well that would be just awesome.

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