This is a guest post written by my partner and wife-to-be, Lorinda Peel. Lorinda is an herbalist-in-training and a fellow graduate of Verge Permaculture‘s design certificate program.
For anyone who is concerned with the degradation of our environment, investing in the ‘buy for life’ motto is another high impact action that you can take. The positive domino effect that comes from buying for life is inspirational. When you refuse to consume pointlessly, recklessly or mindlessly, the kickback to environmental stewardship is huge. The benefit to your own immediate environment is positive as well. Imagine how much less clutter you would have if you buy mindfully, purchase only what you need and buy a higher quality product that is made to last.
You are more likely to buy an ethical product when following the buy for life philosophy. Supporting business that invests in and cares about quality is more appealing than giving your money to businesses that will use the cheapest materials that they can get away with. Businesses that skimp on quality will usually implement cheaper labor costs too (which doesn’t have a good residual effect). Employees of businesses that focus on quantity over quality typically have sub-ideal working conditions just so we can have more stuff at a cheaper cost. And this means more stuff that will eventually end up in a landfill.
These businesses don’t talk about the true costs of things, whether it will detrimentally affect our environment or our health. For example, often the cheapest food and body products use the worst fillers and ingredients (think high fructose corn syrup, synthetic trans fats, MSG, or parabens, propylene glycol, formaldehyde), plus support the most detrimental and unsustainable agricultural practices. Purchasing for quality means that you are more likely to support a smaller, and perhaps local, business. Money will be saved when you consciously purchase quality items since you won’t need to continually replace them. You’ll spend more money buying shoes from Payless every year than if you were to buy a high quality, more expensive brand that will last for years.
If we practice the buy for life philosophy now, it can be something that we pass on to our children and the future generations literally and figuratively. Physically in the way of a better environment and potentially an actual product, and also the mentality to follow the idea themselves. Seeing how our population is booming, this seems timely and necessary. Continuing down the path of wastefulness means that we could be drowning in our landfills in the future, causing more contamination to the air, water and land, while recklessly gobbling up our resources. When you invest more into fewer, higher quality items, you necessarily consume less while enhancing overall quality of life.
It will require a little more time initially as it’s important to do some research before spending larger amounts of money on a product. If you are able to find the product locally made this part can be easier as talking to the person producing the product is the most ideal scenario. It will require a bit more investment up front as you will be spending more money on a “buy it for life” item then you would pay at Walmart or the dollar store (or anywhere that you can buy mass produced crap that isn’t made to last). A general rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for. When you apply this concept to what you are purchasing, it becomes a lot easier to pay more for organic, local and ethical food, invest in your health and wellness and face the upfront higher cost of a well-crafted item.
Garden tools are something that I’ve started to think of as “buy for life” items. My life partner is a blacksmith who creates durable and beautifully crafted tools. I’ve been using one of his trowels for the past year and it hasn’t cracked, chipped or bent yet, all of which are common occurrences for garden tools when working in the clay based soil of southern Alberta. Made from a vehicle’s leaf spring, the heavy-duty blade has heft and strength. The caragana handle fits just right in the hand and is also made to last. And the tool is a work of art! Each item that he makes is unique, and functionally beautiful.
Occasionally you will see the tools from our grandparents’ generation at a farm auction or antique store. These pieces were made to last. Disposability is a modern invention of our culture that we can choose to let go of. Embracing quality, casting our votes with our purchases and reducing our footprint on the environment are the ways to a healthier future.
Let’s bring this idea back and to the forefront. Buy for good; buy for life.
If you’re interested in investing in a durable, high quality garden tool, visit the Tools page for details.