I’ve seen this picture floating across the internet for a variety of platforms, and was finally able to trace it back to Canadian illustrator Sarah Lazarovic. In short, this “Buyerarchy” (modeled after Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”) shows how we should behave when we feel the need to buy something new:
People appreciate convenience. Often times, the best solution to any kind of problem is the one that takes the least amount of time and effort— such as a quick trip to the store when we lose or break something. Unfortunately, what we see as quick solutions add up to be a long-term problem for the environment.
I like to think, for the most part (and politics aside), that people like (or at least tolerate) nature. You don’t have to be an outdoorsy person or an environmental activist to think a mountain is pretty or that the ocean is cool. People don’t see a beautiful river and think, “wow, I wish this was flowing with toxic sludge instead of water.”
That means hardest part about being environmentally conscious isn’t disdain towards the environment, but rather the arduous habit of changing our actions. Altering daily habits and routines can be tough when you’re used to doing things a certain way.
What I love about the “Buyerarchy” is that it incentivizes a sustainable lifestyle by saving you time and money. You don’t have to go vegan or swear off wearing shoes, but making smart decisions such as trying to use what you have saves you from a trip to the store and doesn’t cost a thing. Meanwhile, the choice of heading to a thrift shop gives gently used items new life at a cheaper cost. By re-evaluating our actions and how we approach our accumulation of “stuff,” we all can make environmentally friendly decisions that benefit our own lifestyles.
Small, conscious behaviors add up and eventually become habits. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes, but the “Buyerarchy” is a reminder of what we should strive for when it comes to sustainable buying practices. Give it a shot!
Are you the type of person to borrow from a neighbor? What do you do when you need something you don’t have?