Tag Archives: shopping

Want Happier Kids? Buy Fewer Things for Them

It may be contrary to what children themselves will tell you, but if you want happier kids, don’t buy them so much stuff. Things do not equal happiness, for any of us. By buying too many things for your kids, you’re encouraging them to want more and more, rather than enjoying the good things they do have.

Think about all the things children see on television that they want. No parents in their right minds would buy every single thing that a child says “I want” about. Yet so many parents always get sucked into buying more than children can really enjoy.

Teaching Kids to Avoid Consumerism

Children are impressionable. That’s why they love all the toys their friends have and all the toys they see advertised. It all sounds like things they must have.

But people who are excessively materialistic usually aren’t the happiest. Just think how happy simple things in your own life make you feel. The pride you feel in doing things yourself. How often is it things that make you happy rather than what you do?

It’s the same for kids, and it’s up to you to teach them that.

If you let them watch television, talk to them about what ads do to make them want the toys, fast food and other things they see advertised. Talk to them about why they don’t need everything they see. Point out the things that they have enjoyed for a long time, rather than the few minutes that many of the things advertised would be enjoyed.

It’s not easy to teach this in today’s society. Ads are everywhere. It’s easy to want ridiculous quantities of things you don’t need, yet that’s not the choice that will make most of us happy for any significant time.

Make sure you take your kids with your often when you go shopping. Talk to them about what they see that appeals to them, and whether or not those items would be a good purchase. Teach them what you think makes a good purchase. Show them how quickly the cost adds up for the things you do buy, and how much more it would be if you bought everything that caught their eye. Discuss the environmental cost to buying things you don’t need and won’t really enjoy for a long time.

But My Friends Have….

Kids are going to compare their possessions to those of their friends. It’s a part of growing up. They’re going to wish they owned some of the things their friend has, and may not always appreciate the lessons you’re teaching them about avoiding consumerism.

It’s not easy hearing your kids wish for more. We all wish we could let our kids enjoy whatever their hearts desire. But that’s not good for children and it’s not good for the environment either. Teaching your kids that they don’t need to have everything their friends have is one of life’s great lessons.

Help them to think about their own possessions and what they enjoy about them. Help them think of the things they enjoy doing. Help them to see how these things have value.

Talk to them about those who have less. Kids have great sympathy for the less fortunate if you talk to them about it. The idea that other kids have even less than they do is a great lesson that can be taught to young children.

Don’t make them feel bad about owning what they do or even for wanting other things. We all want things we can’t have. We learn to deal with it. It’s a natural feeling.

You can help your kids deal with our consumeristic culture without becoming excessive consumers themselves. Talk about your beliefs, and live them as a family. It’s amazing how well these things can work out.

How Often Do You Really Need New Things?

I’ve long been amazed by how often many people feel they “need” new things when what they have works perfectly fine. New dishes because they’ve been using the old ones for a few years. A new cell phone because the new model came out.

Not only does buying new things when you don’t need them a waste of your money, it’s not that great for the environment.

It doesn’t matter if you buy the eco friendly version if you’re buying something you don’t need. You’re still buying something you didn’t need to buy.

Organic cotton towels are wonderful. But if your old, conventionally produced ones still dry things just fine, you really aren’t doing the environment a big favor by buying new ones of any sort.

I know how tempting new things are. Our dishes are handmedowns from my mother and my husband’s mother. Yes, a mixed set, and they don’t remotely match.

But they work great. They perform the function of allowing us to eat food off of them. As they break, they’re disposed of.

There’s a key in there for when you do want to buy something new. Find a way to make sure the old stuff keeps getting used.

Sometimes that’s giving it to a friend or relative who likes what you’re getting rid of. Sometimes it’s repurposing it, such as when towels develop holes, and you start using them as rags.

Some basic sewing skills can also help you keep from needing to buy new things too often. I have a comforter that needs a little attention now, as some of the seams have separated. That doesn’t mean I need to replace it, just that it needs a few quick stitches. It’s still warm and otherwise looks good.

When it comes to clothes, it’s amazing the quality you can find at a good thrift store. Sometimes even brand new, unworn clothes that someone decided to get rid of. Thrift stores are a significant improvement on buying new clothes, while still allowing yourself to have something new to you.

The big challenge may be in not feeling pressured to have the latest and greatest. It’s gotten to where people assume you’ll have a recent smart phone, flat screen TV, and buy other new things just because you’ve had the old stuff for a while. That you could choose to live differently shocks some people, and that’s sad to me.

Most important to me is handing down these values to my children. They’re kids, they often want new things, especially if their friends have them or they see an ad on TV. But we talk about why not, and it goes beyond just finances. I don’t want them just buying new stuff because they can afford it. I want them to pick up on the lesson that you buy new things when you need them, with a reasonable definition of “need.”

Why Don’t People Buy Environmentally Friendly Products?

Lots of people want to be more environmentally friendly. Not everyone; in fact, some are downright opposed to the idea, and strongly. But even those who want to be more eco friendly in their homes won’t buy the products. Why is that?


Confusion may be a large part of the problem. The various claims are confusing and often misleading. People don’t always know which products are really eco friendly versus merely being greenwashed.

Uncertainty About Quality

Many people aren’t at all certain that eco friendly products are going to be as good as conventional products. Conventional products are comfortable to use, and people know what they do. They’ve been using them after all.

Eco friendly products, on the other hand, are less well known. Many people don’t have a friend familiar enough with the products to share success stories or to say to avoid particular products that don’t work so well.

Many eco friendly products are not advertised in the same way conventional products are. You don’t see them on television so much unless they’re made by one of the big brands. While some don’t like to admit it, such advertising has a big effect on how products are viewed.

Hard to See Personal Benefit

Telling someone that a product benefits the environment is great. Lots of people like to hear that. But it’s hard to get people to take action without a quickly obvious personal benefit.

That’s much harder to demonstrate, as the basic benefit of using an environmentally friendly product is about the same as using a conventional product. The potential long term personal health benefits and benefits to the environment are much harder to see.


Eco friendly products are perceived as more expensive. That’s because many of the most visible products do cost more. Organic cotton products cost more. Hybrid cars cost more. Solar panels are expensive.

Yet many eco friendly products are easily affordable. Vinegar and baking soda work very well as cleaning products, but many people aren’t aware that they can be used in this way or that they do such a good job. Other eco friendly products can also be affordable.

“One Person Can’t Make a Difference”

Many people feel that what they do personally doesn’t make a significant difference. They’re both right and wrong about that.

Choosing eco friendly products can be better for your health, and while you can’t define that difference much of the time, it can be a difference.

But even more important is that as each individual makes the choice of buying eco friendly products shows businesses that it’s worth their time and money to provide eco friendly products. Choosing to do business with companies with eco friendly practices makes it worth their while to continue to improve those practices. It takes more than one to make that difference, but if individuals don’t make those choices, the pressure never builds up on the businesses to make the change.

Does Buying Eco Friendly Clothing Really Help the Environment?

Choosing eco friendly clothes is a common piece of advice for families who are trying to go green. Clothing is something we all need, and with kids in the house, new clothes are needed pretty often. Wondering if your shopping habits are really making a difference isn’t a bad thing; it just shows that you’re really thinking about the impact you’re having/

What Is Eco Friendly Clothing?

The first thing you need to figure out is just what is meant by eco friendly when it comes to clothing. Clothes made from organic cotton come easily to mind for most of us. Bamboo is a popular material now. But to really get into eco friendly clothes, you need to go beyond the simple categories.

Handmedown clothes are eco friendly. You’re reusing clothes that someone else was done with.

Clothes bought at thrift stores are eco friendly. Same deal as with handmedowns.

The clothes you have in your closet aren’t going to get any more un-eco friendly, so long as you care for them in environmentally friendly ways.

That’s important to remember. Going green is not all about shopping.

Worrying about whether the materials used to make the clothes matters most when you’re buying new. That’s when you get into organic cotton and other such materials. They matter most when the materials used are new to your purchase.

Does Buying Organic Cotton Clothes Make a Difference?

You can feel as though the difference in how your clothes are produced is a small issue, environmentally speaking. We’re so far removed from where the cotton is grown and processed that it’s easy to miss the harms.

Tremendous amounts of fertilizers and pesticides are used on conventionally grown cotton. This is bad for the land it’s grown on and for the lakes, rivers and oceans the excess water may runoff to. There’s a good post over on The Good Human called What’s So Bad About Non-Organic Cotton? that explains the situation well.

Buying organic cotton also means you’re supporting farmers who aren’t using so many potentially dangerous chemicals.

Clothes made from bamboo, even organic bamboo, are a bit more complex. Most bamboo cloth is chemically processed. Some of these chemicals are hard on the environment and on the workers using them. This processing turns it into a viscose or rayon fiber. It’s not as natural as many want you to think.

Overall, if you want to help the environment through the clothes you wear, really think about where they’re coming from, and don’t go for the huge wardrobe. Reduce how much you buy new, buy used when you can, and pay attention to how the new clothes are made. That’s the best way to limit the impact your clothes shopping has on the environment.

How to Make Your Wardrobe More Eco Friendly

Green is a great color for your wardrobe, whether you like to wear it or not. But I don’t mean the color. I mean having a wardrobe that is the eco friendly kind of green.

It’s really not that hard to make your wardrobe be kinder to the environment. This may not sound ideal to you, especially if you love buying new outfits, but you can make this work.

Thrift Store and Consignment Shops Are Your Friends

One of the easiest ways to have an eco friendly wardrobe is to focus on buying used clothes. It may not sound appealing at first, but you might be amazed at what you can find that has belonged to someone else first. An amazing number of people replace clothing in their wardrobe after very few wearings. You can buy used clothes that look as good as new.

Thrift store shopping can be an adventure. It’s not the easiest way to shop sometimes. Some stores are better organized than others. You may find clothes from many years ago. Some outfits may look as though they’d do better as a Halloween costume than everyday clothing. Bring your sense of adventure and sense of humor when you head out to the thrift stores to shop.

When you’re done with an outfit, it can head back to the thrift store. If it’s still in good condition they’ll probably just sell it on.

If it’s not in good condition, find out if it’s welcome first. Some thrift stores sell torn and stained clothes in bundles as rags. Others just throw them out. It’s better if you are certain you aren’t just moving something from your trash to theirs.

And you could always make rags for yourself.

Find Eco Friendly Retailers

You can find all kinds of shops online and in some areas that offer eco friendly fashion for those times when you do need something new. Fair trade is a good option to look for.

You can find companies that make clothes using organic materials and use natural dyes. You can find vegetarian and vegan fashions. Just look around and see what suits your eco choices.

A tragic number of retailers still use sweatshop labor. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to where your clothes are coming from when you buy them new. Being green isn’t always just about the environment. You should be thinking about the human factor too.