That’s it. That is what we, the average person, can do to most impact climate change. Stop buying new things. Don’t buy a new car (even if it’s electric), a new shirt, a new dress, a new phone, a new power tool, a new toy for your child. That is what you can do. And it will have a tremendous impact. Because every one of those new things requires pulling more virgin resources, some of them finite, non-renewables like lithium or copper or iron, from the earth (often using questionable ethical practices). Most of us have no idea what monstrosities have been committed to create the things we buy.
We already consume so many new things every day, because we breathe. We have figured out how to live three times longer than our species was supposed to. That puts tremendous strain on the earth’s resources. The cost in consumables; food, cleaning products, supplements, medicines, medical supplies etc to keep us all alive, and clean, every day is tremendous.
In my family’s lifetime we will go through hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bags of food: bread, eggs, chicken and fish, snacks (consider the resources needed for both container and food in container). Sometimes we eat plant based protein: burgers and beans but that also has to be grown, and comes in plastic. So we do buy a whole lot of ‘new’ things already, every day and every week. We just eat them all, and send the packaging they come in to a landfill. In more ways than one, we are eating our way to extinction.
And because we are already doing so much damage, the least we can do is try to limit it by not buying new things that we really do not need to stay alive and comfortable. This is our broken (underneath) 17 year old couch that I refuse to replace. It has been like this for three years now and actually works fine. I have tried to fix it myself without success. I probably should call in a professional just to get a quote to see if it can be repaired but, it is not an emergency.
Recently my son needed a new sweater his size. We have been fortunate that when they were small they got great, gently used hand me downs from their cousins. However, now that they are full grown, it turns out that they are not the same size and shape as their full grown cousins. So I got him a wonderful, second hand Eddie Bauer sweater that he loves from Poshmark…but I still have not told him it is second hand. I’m worried he will be disappointed and like it less. And that is our problem. Buying new things has become our ‘love language’. Lovingly caring for and repairing things is no longer important to us. That is for ‘poor people’.
Stop buying new stuff. Stop and think first, do you really need the item AT ALL? If you do, can you repair what you have? Can you borrow or rent one if you only need something for one small infrequent job (like a power tool)? If not, can you obtain a gently used item second hand? Let’s stop being ashamed of loving our earth and trying to do anything we can to save it for our children. Mothers who truly believe in science and are not climate deniers have no shame, only undying conviction.