To Buy or Not to Buy?

Sophie Gorissen, 23-10-2023


Dear Life Enjoyers,

Every single day you need to make numerous choices. Many are about buying something, or not.
Everywhere we are bombarded with ads and sales that convince us to buy things we never knew we
needed. For me, sustainability is about making eco-friendly and socially responsible choices. That is
what I’m going to discuss in this column. Inspired by minimalism, I’m starting with figuring out with
each (product) consumption whether I need it, want it, or am triggered to want it.

I feel it is so easy to get excited about a good deal and go for it, without really thinking about your
actual needs (not wants) and its consequences on a bigger scale, as they are difficult to fathom. As a
result, my small room is full of stuff, and I probably don’t use half of it. I also see this happening to
my roommates. We’re proud of our good deals, especially concerning clothes, but do we wear
everything? And does the piece last longer than one season, whether it is in terms of quality or
fashion? I have noticed that item often tend to have a shorter lifespan than I would prefer. In the past months, I already tried to lessen my impulsive buys, especially from not sustainable brands, but then there is the money issue as a student. Although this issue applies to more people than students. In that sense, buying less is the most effective way to be sustainable. By the way, this is only concerning “stuff”. I’m not even talking about food yet. We will get there.

First, it is my personal goal to consume less and weigh the costs and benefits on multiple levels
before buying something. This goal is not a strict rule, it is more a change of mindset, as a guidance
to do the best I can. Will you join me on this sustainable journey?

Here are a few things I will be asking myself from now on, maybe it will guide you too:
–          ‘Why am I buying this product?’ Keep this question in mind when you’re shopping: are you
just triggered, do you just want it (and why?), or do you really need it? Maybe skip the ad on
Instagram for a few hours, so you refrain from impulsive buying.
–          ‘What stuff in my room don’t I use anymore?’ Please don’t throw it away, that is not
sustainable either, but maybe you can make someone else happy with it. As for clothes, books, etc.,
you could bring them to ‘Leger des Heils’.
–          Timelessness is a sustainable trend! Instead of short trends, choose items that are or could be
timeless. Maybe wear those tight jeans again, for example, instead of buying a new wide model,
because that is trendy now.
–          Check the app ‘Good On You’. It shows the sustainability and social responsibility of different
clothing brands and gives you alternatives. This way you can make an informed decision about where
you buy your stuff, whether you neglect the result or not, at least you know.
–          Thrifting. Second-hand stores could maybe also fill your needs, and the items are still new for
you. You could check them out when you are looking for something, before buying a “new” product.

I saw a post on Instagram (yes, of course, I am also influenced by social media) by
@secondhand.sustainability (October 2023) about viewing your clothing as a long-term commitment.
She sees it as prioritizing choosing clothes (and other products) that you will love for years, so the
“relationship” with them can last. She calls it a sustainable mindset, which is what I am trying to
achieve in this journey, and can in this case result in restraining impulsive buying, reducing waste,
and saving money.

So think about it and be more aware of your choices. We´re all in this together. My goal with this
column is to involve you in my sustainability journey. Inspiring you would be a great bonus. As an
individual, you can make a difference! Feel free to reach out to me. I’m curious about what you are

Sophie, your sustainable choice supporter.