Being a Conscious Consumer:10 Epic Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Buy

You would think, that having an online store here at Recycled Interiors, that a post about 10 epic reasons why you should think before you buy is retail suicide, yet in fact, this mentality is at the core of everything we do here. It is not a message to never shop again. It is a message to become a conscious consumer, someone who thinks about what you buy, when you buy it, where you buy it and why.

Being a Conscious Consumer 10 Epic Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Buy Being a conscious consumer is about considering firstly if you need the item?

This is the first part of living a more sustainable life – Refusing things that are not needed in your life; refusing to buy fast fashion, unethical products, single use plastics and chemical laden products.

The second part is about Reducing the shopping you do in your life; reducing the amount of miles things take to get to you; reducing the packaging items come in and therefore reducing your footprint on the planet.

Conscious consumerism is about considering buying vintage items – the Reuse and Reinvent part of sustainable living, and Repairing what you already have.

It is about considering who has made the products and whether they have made these in fair conditions, with fair wages and treatment.

Instead of blindly buying the $5 cushion because it is “so cheap!” it is about considering:

  • do you need the cushion? (bearing in mind sometimes it is totally cool to need it because you want to create a warm home that helps increase your sense of comfort and wellbeing)
  • if the answer is yes, can you get a cushion from the vintage store? (I have bought most of my cushions in op shops!)
  • if the answer is no to that, what is your budget and if you need to, can you afford or save up to get the handmade cushion at the local market, or at a store like Recycled Interiors?

The $5 cushion may initially look (almost) as good as the one made by the local upcycler who creates cushions with fabric remnants, or the fair trade group who bring handmade cushions to us, made with recycled materials which contributes to their wellbeing and income; or the local designer who lovingly hand prints her cushions in her own workroom – but it is far far more damaging than it looks on the surface – to you and the planet.

Poorly made items end up breaking quickly and go straight to landfill. Poorly made items are often jam packed with chemicals that can offgas in your home and create an unhealthy environment. Poorly made items are always, just not as good as the quality, fair trade, ethical and eco friendly ones – or the ones made by your own hands (even better!).

Many designers are finding their designs, lovingly created over many weeks or months, turning up on big store shelves at a much lower price. I have personally had people comment on social media on our ethically made, recycled rugs, that they can get it cheaper at KMart….this is criminal in my opinion…..

Considered, conscious shopping is what we are talking about here. I work very hard to source items for our store that offer you ways to be more sustainable, such as plastic bag alternatives and eco cleaning products; as well as locally designed, handmade homewares, that support our local makers, and bring you better quality, ethical goods for your home – buy once and buy well wherever possible.

Being a Conscious Consumer 10 Epic Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Buy In the “old days” people would save up to buy the hero piece of furniture for their home. Now, we are encouraged to buy a new piece every “season”. Many of those old pieces are still alive and well in second hand stores, op shops and hard rubbish piles. Many of them are living and breathing in homes of people like you and me, unlike the cheap and nasty items lying on roadsides and in landfills across the country.

Here are 10 epic reasons why you should think before you shop

  1. Save Cash! Refusing to buy something just because an “influencer” shared it on Instagram and it looked so damn GOOD on her, or in her place, and it is on sale, is not a reason to shop! Refusing to buy these sort of impulse buys is good for you and the planet. Choosing to buy more quality items may cost more initially, but they will LAST – and the buy once buy well approach makes sense.
  2. Live a less complicated life – less stuff = less to worry about, manage, clean and sort. Worrying about whether your home is “on trend”, looking good enough for other people, or “up to date” is no good for anybody. Stick to your guns about what you love and consider whether additional items will really make any difference to your life. Go for a walk in the mountains, or by the beach instead of shopping. Or head out for a massage and treat yourself that way. Mr Recycled asked me the other day what I want for my birthday – I said just our trip to see the whales, followed by a week with family at our beach shack. “But do you want a present?” he said….”there is no thing, no stuff I want or need” I said, “just experiences”.
  3. Feel better about your purchases¬†and your life– have you ever bought something on impulse and then had a bitter taste in your mouth? Bad purchases, made in haste, often result in feelings of guilt or worry about the money, even hiding items from loved ones. If you are addicted to shopping ( I was when in my early 20’s so I totally get this), it can be a never ending cycle of buying, guilt and buying more – the same as any addiction. If you actually do have an issue with this, you can seek counselling to help break the habit.
  4. Support a local maker – buying directly from makers at markets, or their stores, as well as places like Recycled Interiors where we support local makers and businesses, means you are contributing to our local economy and reducing the miles involved in the products being made, and getting to you. Often you can find out the story behind the item. Sharing stories of makers is one of my favourite things to do.
  5. Support a community overseas who rely on your fairtrade purchases to survive – many fair trade and ethically made products are essential to the basic survival of people who make these. We work with a couple of organisations who have close, personal relationships with the communities and families who create their products. This means that stories can be shared and you can be assured that the products are ethically made.
  6. Help to reduce landfill – by refusing and reducing, you are making an impact on your contribution to landfill. Buying quality means items will last. Buying vintage means you are giving things a new life. All of these things help.
  7. Teach your children that shopping is not a mindless activity or a social outing – it is so hard for kids now. They are swamped with advertising, everywhere they look. They are driven to consume. We must teach them that this is not something to be taken lightly, and that in fact, what you choose to spend your money on is VERY powerful.
  8. Get better quality, more beautiful and longer lasting products – as with the landfill point, thinking before you shop often results in more considered purchases and better items. Makes sense when you think about it!
  9. Appreciate what you have, rather than always be thinking about what you want next – being mindful in life is important for your wellbeing. Appreciating what you have, each moment of your day, helps you to slow down and become aware of how really lucky your life is and that a new set of dining chairs is not the answer to your more difficult emotions.
  10. Get more time – spending less time worrying about what you or your home look like and how to update them; less time in soulless shopping malls; less time sitting online to check all the sales; means more time to do all those things you always wanted to do.

Being a Conscious Consumer 10 Epic Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Buy

All of this is why you will not see hard sell messages at Recycled Interiors. It is why our store is just part of what I do, rather than the sole thing I focus on, and why we will say to you “if you are looking for something or actually need something that will help your home to be more sustainable, hop on over”. And if you do choose to shop with us, we have just launched our Recycled Club, to try and help – you can head here for details.

Helen x

Being a Conscious Consumer 10 Epic Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Buy


  1. Helene Wild on June 6, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Fantastic post. So insightful & comprehensive. Thank you.

    • Helen Edwards on June 6, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      thank you Helene, such an important issue

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