Five Tips that Didn’t Fit a Category!
This month at Postconsumers, we’ve dedicated our content to helping you with ideas for getting away from large, global retailers and brands that feed the epidemic of addictive consumerism and focusing on local vendors, retailers and artisans. We’ve given you tips on choosing where you shop, dealing with food and increasing your knowledge. However, with advice-giving as with life, not everything fits neatly into just one category. In our final installment in this series, we’ve got what we think are five great tips that stand entirely on their own. From ways to use the internet for good to changing your mindset entirely, we hope these final pieces of advice will take your effort to focus locally from good to great.
Number One: Shop on Etsy
Not everything about the internet is bad! In fact, there are as many ways that it helps separate you from the consumer media machine as there are ways that binds you to it. The internet has made it possible for literally thousands of smaller merchants to market their products and wares to the world. One of the best, most centralized examples of this is Etsy. In fact, one of our own Postconsumers staffers just purchased almost her entire wedding shopping list there without ever having to deal with the mass marketing that happens to brides. While we’re not going to pretend that Etsy isn’t ultimately a retail site that will market to you (albeit fairly subtly in the form of things that happen on the site as opposed to marketing emails), it’s a site that caters to small and responsible vendors and craftsmen. We often say that the idea that you’re never going to buy anything ever again probably isn’t reasonable (or even desirable). But Etsy and other sites or online craftsmen marketplaces give you the opportunity to make great choices about where your dollars go and what they support. And as we also often say, every dollar that you spend is a vote.
Number Two: Upcycle and Recycle Your Own Items
Think you’re not crafty? Think again! Especially with (the good part) of the internet available, there aren’t many items that you can’t upcycle or recycle to either meet your current needs or just create something cool. Part of separating yourself from the global consumer machine is to extend the lifespan of the things that you do buy so that you’re not as caught up in the cycle of buy “more, more, more.” Think that t-shirt is done? You may be surprised at how many things you can turn it into – from a cleaning sponge to an entirely different fashion creation or a pillow. Why buy more and more candles when you can recycle wax into new candles? There are so many possibilities that it’s really almost endless. The best piece of advice that we can give you is that before you get rid of anything, take ten minutes to Google ideas for what you could turn it into.
Number Three: Stop Buying Online
We know that we just advised you to buy online at Etsy, but the examples of when and where buying online is a good thing (if you want to support local merchants and find space between you and the global consumer machine) are frankly few and far between. Not only do large internet sites typically support global brand and marketing initiatives, but they make the idea of purchasing “more and more and more” so simple and almost something that you do without thinking. How many times have you bought an item just because something told you that “this is what other people buy when they buy the item you selected?” Plus, online shopping puts you in an email marketing loop. However, when it comes to supporting local vendors, the risk of online shopping is pretty clear. Online shopping just makes it so easy to go directly to the biggest name or the owner of the advertisement that you just saw without having to do much work on your end. Finding a local vendor to purchase from or create what you need can be a much more challenging situation that actually requires work on your end. The more you shop online, the more likely you are to stray away from local vendors and initiatives.
Number Four: Schedule a Shopping Day
Before you say it, we already know that anti-consumerism purists are hitting their screen in anger at the idea that we would actually suggest that you spend a day to go shopping. But the truth is that having set and even leisurely time to complete shopping tasks is one of the best ways to get into the habit of using local stores and vendors. One of the largest appeals of big box stores or even large national department stores is ease, speed and convenience. In fact, in many big box stores these days, you can buy clothes, food, household goods and even automotive parts with just one trip. We’re all over-scheduled now (and if you’re not, we applaud you for taking control of your life), so the speed and convenience of larger big box and department stores can be an enticement over having to stop at several different places to get what you need. That’s why having a day dedicated to running shopping errands instead of trying to cram them into your already busy life can increase the chance that you’ll be true to your desire to support local shopping. The less time we leave for an event such as shopping, the more likely we are to pick the easiest and most convenient option – which often isn’t a local option.
Number Five: Be Your Own Brand
It’s one of our mantras here at Postconsumers, but it rings so true. One of the ways to separate yourself from feeling that you need items from big global brands is to define yourself as your own brand. From how you look to how you speak to everything about you that makes you an individual. Once you define yourself as your own brand, you won’t be as compelled to rush out and buy things that are associated with big, global brands. It’s not a process that you will be able to do overnight. Everything around you is telling you to define yourself by the brands you wear instead of defining yourself as a brand. But once you start to move in the opposite direction, you won’t feel the need to rely on places where you can be the brands that “they” want you to be defined by.
As you can see from our four part series on things that you can do to be better at buying locally and just saying no to large global brands and retailers, it’s actually not a simple as just saying “I’m not going to do that anymore.” But few things in life are! One of the most important aspects about becoming a Postconsumer is realizing that it’s a journey. You’re bombarded so much during the day (and the night for that matter) with consumer media messages designed to push you toward big box stores and global retail brands. Moving beyond that involves making a series of small changes and decisions that build on top of each other. We’re hopeful that we’ve given you the tools to do exactly that!
Did we miss a way to shop local that you love and want to share? Tell us about it on the social media channels below.