Last year the UN told us that ‘rapid, far reaching and unprecedented change is needed to avoid catastrophic environmental breakdown’.
Which sounds scary. But one small change that we can all make - that we all HAVE to make - is very simple. We need to buy less stuff.
I know, I’m a retailer. We’re meant to get you to buy MORE.
But this isn’t about sales figures, or profit margins, or market share. This is about looking my children in the eye and being able to say that I did everything I could to prevent a catastrophic environmental breakdown that will affect every aspect of their adult lives.
Of course I want people to buy reusable nappies. I’m proud to make something that is an alternative to a single use product. I’m proud that I make nappies that are designed to last. I’d rather spend more money on quality materials and have a smaller profit margin than create something that’s designed to fall apart so that you have to come back for more than you should need.
In a few short decades we have become a consumer society. It is a new phenomenon. Many of us have parents or grandparents who will eat to the edge of the apple core to avoid waste; who throw the dish water on the garden; or who monitor the bin for what can be saved.
We need to stop thinking of our consumer lifestyle as the norm and as our right. We have to see it as a very new and short-lived little blip in human history.
The irony of our consumer lifestyle is that every study, every piece of research, and all the anecdotal evidence shows that people who own less are happier.
We all know it really - splashing in muddy puddles with our children makes us happy. The joy we experience is the same, regardless of whether our wellies are brand new or hand-me-downs.
There are four environmental imperatives. Buying ‘enough’; buying second hand; buying well; and reusing and repurposing.
So one of the most significant small steps we can make is altering the way we think.
Buying less is widely seen as a sacrifice, a hardship. Buying more is associated with wealth and ‘success’. But when we alter our thinking, buying less becomes an opportunity. Buying less is a positive way to be happier.
When I started Baba+Boo, it was because I can't stand waste. (Thanks, Dad.)
Part of that was environmental, but it was bigger than that. I had decided I couldn’t go back to my 9-5; and I was unexpectedly about to have two children under 18 months. Living simply was essential to their well being and my most basic survival.
The less you buy - and the better you buy - the more money and time you have to live well.
Time. That thing we all desire more of. Time with our children; time for ourselves; time to do the things we want to do.
Buying less gives us that time. Buying less means you spend less time shopping; and less time tidying and cleaning your ‘stuff’. And because we spend less, we can work less.
I love what I do. I love designing and creating beautiful, good quality things that people need. But I also love working with parents at such an incredible, emotional, life changing time in your lives. I love that our nappies don’t just make our planet better; they are part of a journey towards giving you the time and money to live well with your new family.
Buying less is an environmental necessity. And it is more. It’s an opportunity to shift away from our newly-invented lifestyle of possessions and chores, and working harder and longer to pay the bill. It’s an opportunity to move towards a lifestyle of fewer things but happier lives.
And that, surely, is a legacy worth passing onto our children.
- In October 2018, the UN’s IPCC said that urgent and unprecedented change is needed to avoid catastrophic environmental breakdown. But massive change happens through a series of little tweaks and alterations. ‘Small steps’ is a series of occasional articles about the small changes that we can make, that add up to make a big difference.