Energy Diet

Dear Planet Earth, I confess: We love online shopping. Books, jeans, cooking utensils, baby cloth diapers, you name it.

Is there a more comfortable way to purchase stuff without having to stroll through the overcrowded Portuguese shopping malls? Probably not. But… Have we thought about the environmental inadequacy of our purchasing actions? Well, we have. And how do we feel? Well… happ… OK, guilty!

We hardly need another pair of jeans and the book we have just bought could probably be found on Bookcrossing, a book exchanging platform for book lovers. Maybe the fryer we imported last week from England could have been bought here, in Portugal, but it was cheaper if we ordered it overseas. Cheaper for our wallet, not for our planet, not to speak of the biodegradable grade of the material and the resources and toxic dyes used to produce it.

To redeem ourselves from our small consumer sins, we started buying secondhand. When I was pregnant I used to think that we would spend a fortune buying the nursery’s furniture and the baby clothing… (And the resources used, and the environment, and Fair Trade…) But we managed pretty well in that field without buying too much new stuff. For starters, we borrowed from friends and family. This way, the sleeping, transportation and clothing departments were taken care of. We had a problem in the bathing field though: No one had a baby bath tub to lend us. So we had to buy one. Having heard there was a secondhand store for kids not far away from home, we stopped by and… surprise! Not only did we find a cheap but sturdy bath tub, but also the perfect place to buy used clothing and textiles for small human beings who grow too fast.

From time to time, there is also something we don’t use anymore. Instead of simply throwing it away and hoping someone will pick it up from the street (like this couch we saw in Amsterdam), we try to extend its lifetime, by donating it on Freecycle, a nonprofit movement of people who give away free stuff they don’t need and people who get the stuff they need. There were moments when I was really glad this movement existed, especially when my mom forced me to bring home my bridal trousseau (Oh joy!), which she and my grandmother have been assembling for me over the past 30 years…

Changes due this week:

– Refuse ANY plastic bags, with no exception, and always remember to bring my cloth bag with me;

– Reuse old wrapping paper to wrap gifts;

– Persuade my cleaning lady to use the eco-friendly cleaning products I have bought (she thinks they aren´t efficient, because they don´t smell as good…);

– Ask a local-based dressmaker to transform old dresses and blouses that I don’t use anymore, such as my pregnancy clothing;

– Keep on Freecycling. There are still lots of beautiful bed linen and towels from the 80’s to giveaway…

Comments

  1. Dave Chameides
    June 6, 2011, 7:26 am

    Monia,
    Great post. I think we all need to consider that difference between what we need and what we want. Sounds like you are well on the way on that front. Freecycling and buying used are key and it’s quite often how we get stuff/pass it on. I love your changes for this week, especially the plastic bags! Refusing should be the first of the three R’s! Great start!

  2. Cristina
    Munich
    June 7, 2011, 4:34 am

    Love the tip about freecycle. Will probably use it in the near future. 🙂

  3. Christina Nunez
    June 7, 2011, 11:10 am

    Impressed with how much you have managed to get secondhand! What a great headline…. I’m sure your mother would forgive you knowing your good intentions!

  4. Monia
    June 9, 2011, 3:27 am

    Thanks for the support 🙂

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  6. Cecilia
    Johannesburg
    June 12, 2011, 1:15 pm

    Hi Monia
    Great post, made me laugh. You just made me aware of one of my own ‘sins’ , online shopping. Made me think. Thanks for that! 🙂