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Want vs. Need

One of the hardest things about trying to live a greener lifestyle is trying to remember to keep control of your wants versus your needs. We live in a very acquisitive society, making this even more difficult.

For example, I would dearly love to have a laptop computer with a wireless internet connection. Don’t absolutely need one, as I already own a computer, but I really, really want one.

Having a laptop would allow me to work in the back yard as the kids play, take care of my business while on vacation rather than trusting my sister to watch it, and borrowing a computer whenever possible to take a peek. I can justify it pretty well. But at the same time it’s not an absolute need, merely something that could be quite advantageous.

Similarly, when my husband and I decided not to replace my car, it was part a budgetary decision and partially because we really don’t utterly need a second car. It’s a little luxury that gives me more freedom to do things with the kids, but I can get by without it.

One of the unexpected side benefits of not being able to afford the replacement car right now is that my husband has gone from insisting on a minivan (I talked him down from a SUV) to being interested in a hybrid car. Since we probably won’t be able to afford a minivan as easily as we would a hybrid car, this makes a lot of sense.

I’ll tell you my father-in-law’s reaction to that another day.

Learning to keep better control over my own habits makes it easier to pass on such things to my own children. My kids are very young and of course want everything. My oldest is 4, and those of you with children probably know what that age is like. It’s tough sometimes and yet once they accept a reason they are so enthusiastic and believe wholeheartedly.

That’s not to say my kids are good with want versus need yet. They aren’t. Having the right toy just seems so urgent to them.

On the other hand, when we clean things out my daughter loves the notion that a child more in need than her will get to play with her old toys. The thought just delights her.

I’m improving bit by bit. I think it’s important to think of these things as a process rather than something to be accomplished all at once. This really makes it easy to take the necessary steps and cope with failure better. I know I’m not perfect at living a green lifestyle but I’m always improving.

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