January 2021: Buying Less

Hello, Potatoes! Welcome to a new year!! ????????????

Happy first anniversary of Potato Squad! ???? Thank you for being a Potato with us!

These next three months we’ll be focusing on consumption. A quick overview: If all humans consumed things at the rate of those in the US, it would take four Earths to supply all of those resources. So these three months we’ll focus on buying less, consumption and the world, and ethical shopping. Large companies produce much more waste and pollution than individuals. That’s why it’s important to remember last month’s goal, chiming in, and to support companies we believe in and put pressure on others to improve. And remember, when you buy things, you are voting with your dollars, so whatever you are buying now is telling companies that’s what you want in the future. 

This month, our topic is how to reduce our consumption! Our goal is to reduce our purchases to only what we need.

We’ll start with some common marketing tactics (scroll down farther for tips!):

•Tactics such as greenwashing are used to make you think you are being eco-friendly. Greenwashing is an attempt to make products seem eco-friendly by making unsubstantiated claims about the products and company. Products that are actually green back up their claims with facts and details, for example, explaining what their product is made of, where that material comes from, and how it is better for the environment. You can find more information on this topic in this article. In fact, going zero-waste isn’t about buying fashionable, eco-friendly products, but using and reusing what you already have. (See our August challenge on our website potatosquad.org for more information.)

•Endorsement and influence is someone famous recommending a product.

•Personalized advertising — showing you ads based on your activity and interests — is another way marketers take advantage of you. The way this works is companies spy on your search history/social media/purchases, then put ads in your social media feeds, search engines, etc. for things that are similar to your interests, and can collect huge amounts of data about you and your life. Follow this link to learn more about this subject.

• A note from DivergentPotato ???? on commercials: So how do marketing tactics trick your brain into thinking you need everything? Marketers can trick your emotions into thinking you need something by showing people having a really hard time until all of a sudden they get a vacuum (this is just an example) and their knee pain goes away and their dog is back from the dead. By doing this you will think if you get the vacuum your life will be soooooooo much better and so you need to buy the vacuum. Another way they can trick your brain is with editing. Think of all those times a commercial was all gloomy and gray until . . . A new vacuum!! All of the sudden it’s all bright and happy! Which would you prefer, gloomy and sad or bright and happy?

Here is an infographic of some more common marketing tactics.

Another thing that can get in the way of conscious consumption is peer pressure and expectations to buy what we don’t need. If we feel like we need to buy things to be happy, or to belong in a certain group, that can influence us to buy things we don’t actually want. These sorts of influences can be hard to overcome, but you’re not alone. We’re all in this together!

Identifying what you really need versus what you want is an important step to reducing your consumption that will ultimately make you happier and help you save money. Of course, you can still buy things that bring you joy, but you’ll be surprised at how much you don’t actually need.

One tip to help you consume less is to have a personal 30-day purchase pause. A 30-day purchase pause is the practice of waiting 30 days before buying an item. Of course, this does not include your daily necessities like food, hygiene products, etc. What this will do is let the instant need to buy an item wear off, and give you a chance to come up with another solution; if you are still thinking about it by the time your purchase pause is over, that shows that the item will truly bring you joy!

Additionally, knowing what you already own is a really important part of reducing what you consume. This way you won’t keep buying things that you already own, like duplicate clothing, cords and chargers, etc.

Some more tips:

•Make a list of what you need/really want

•Find alternative activities to shopping

•Make a shopping list when you go to the store and stick to it. You can also keep a separate folder for store emails so you can find coupons and discounts on your own terms rather than letting the store convince you to buy things that you wouldn’t have wanted otherwise 

•Clean! You may be surprised at how many ✨amazing✨ things you find, and then you don’t have to buy them!

•Make a New Year’s Resolution to buy only what you need

•For less measurable things like energy, see our eco-etiquette (April, May, June) challenges

•Try re-gifting and buying secondhand

•Refuse, reduce, reuse!

For a bit of context: Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) is the calculated day on which humanity’s resource consumption for the year exceeds Earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources in that year; 2020’s EOD was August 22nd. Together, we can help push it back by using the tips we share in this email!

Here is this month’s checklist. Good luck this month and this new year!!! Let’s do this together!!! Woohooo!!!!!!!!!! ???????? Be a potato!

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