Stop Buying Crap, and Companies Will Stop Making Crap
We live in a highly capitalistic and materialistic society where we have been convinced that the key to a happy life lies in accumulating stuff.
We are constantly being bombarded with advertisements, and shopping has been made so convenient that you can buy something from across the world with a few clicks from the comfort of your bedroom.
The result of this mental conditioning is that many of us today find pleasure in buying and hoarding a lot of crap we don’t need.
We buy toys that our kids only play with a couple of times, sporting equipment that remains in the closet the whole year, clothes that we never wear, trendy electronic gadgets that become outdated a year down the line, and so on.
Don’t believe me?
Check out the statistics below:
- The average American house contains over 300,000 items! Yes, you read that right.
- About 10% of households in America are paying for self-storage units to store their excess stuff.
- The average American home has almost tripled in size over the last couple of decades.
- The average person spends about 12 days every year trying to find things they can’t find among all their stuff.
These statistics show how much consumerism and the need to buy stuff we don’t need has become ingrained in our society.
And here is the sad thing: not only does buying all this crap lead to wastage of money, it also creates a ton of waste that contributes to environmental pollution. In addition, the production of all these useless items leads to an increase in greenhouse emissions.
Apart from increasing the amount of waste we produce and increasing greenhouse emissions, some products are plain useless.
For instance, a guy named Gary Dahl came up with the brilliant idea of selling pet rocks, complete with a USB cable to connect the rock to your computer, though it really didn’t do anything. You’d think that no one would be dumb enough to buy something like this.
However, people bought the pet rocks by the thousands, eventually making Dahl more than a million dollars.
Another similar product is the “I Am Rich” iOS app, which could be bought for $999 on the iTunes store. The app did not have any practical function. Its sole purpose was to show that whoever downloaded the app was rich enough to waste their money on the app.
Oh, you could also use the app to brag to your friends about how much money you had.
Though it was removed from the app store, a couple of people had already downloaded it. You can check out some other useless products here.
So, why do “entrepreneurs” and companies make such products?
Here’s the thing.
The companies producing all this crap do not really care about the increase in amount of waste or emission of greenhouse gasses, or whether you get to use their products at all. What they care about is profits.
So long as we continue buying stuff we don’t actually need, they will continue producing more stuff and spending hundreds of billions in advertisement to convince us why we should buy whatever they produce.
What a lot of consumers don’t realize is that they have the power to make an impact on what companies produce.
Through your purchase decisions as a consumer, you have the power to not only stop companies from producing crap, but also to influence and drive changes in how goods are produced and brought to market.
In other words, if consumers stop spending their money on the wrong things, companies will be forced to adapt and start producing the right things.
Below are some ways through which consumers can change their buying habits and therefore force companies to stop producing useless crap, thereby helping reduce the amount of waste and emissions produced, and save themselves some money as well.
GO FOR HIGH QUALITY PRODUCTS
There is no better definition of crap than low quality products.
You’d think that no worthwhile company would produce low quality products, yet such products continue to flood the market.
This is because consumers – people like you and me – keep buying these products.
The most surefire way of getting crappy, low quality products off the market is to stop buying them. A good example of this is what happened to Ivanka Trump’s fashion brand.
A number of explanations have been put forth to try and explain why Ivanka Trump’s fashion line fell.
However, probably the biggest reason as to why it fell can be attributed to the boycott on its products.
Some investigators had already made claims that there were some human rights violations in the brand’s supply chain, including workers being forced to work 57 hours a week while getting paid below minimum wage.
This, plus outrage against her father Donald Trump led to the Grab Your Wallet campaign, which urged women to stop buying from any retailers that stocked products from her brand.
In addition, there were complaints that the brand’s products were crappy, poorly designed, and made from low quality materials.
As more and more women started avoiding products associated with the Ivanka Trump fashion line, sales continued plummeting, with one source claiming that the sales of the brand’s products on Amazon, Zappos, Bloomingdales and Macy’s fell by over 50% within one year.
Eventually, Ivanka Trump had no other choice but to shut down her fashion line.
This shows how powerful consumers can be when it comes to getting companies to stop producing crappy products, and all they need to do is to stop buying.
ASK YOURSELF IF YOU REALLY NEED IT
Like I mentioned, advertisement is meant to convince us why we cannot live without something we do not actually need.
You could be watching TV one day and an ad comes up about some new gadget that solves this problem you never even thought you had, and so you decide to give it a try.
You go ahead and buy it, only to realize that it doesn’t work as advertised, and therefore, you end up relegating it onto some dark corner of your shelf.
You don’t want to throw it away because of the money you have spent on it.
If you look around your house, you will probably come across lots of stuff that you bought but never use. The same applies to many other people.
So, if we don’t even use this stuff, why do companies keep producing the stuff?
Well, they do because they know that they can convince you to buy.
Once you hand over your dollars to them, they don’t actually care whether you end up using the stuff or not. But if we stopped buying, they would stop producing the stuff.
To avoid this, you should get in the habit of evaluating the reason behind every purchase. Why are you actually buying the item? Do you really need it, or are you simply buying because it looked cool in an ad? Will purchasing it add any value to your life? Are you buying it because society makes you think you need the item? Are you buying so as to gain some sort of social status, even if you don’t really need the item?
Asking yourself these questions will prevent you from buying lots of useless stuff that you don’t need.
If most of us asked ourselves these questions, we would stop buying a lot of the useless crap in the supermarkets today, and companies would be forced to stop producing this stuff.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
There are a lot of crappy products in the market, but why do people keep buying them?
The problem is that most people do not actually know that the products are crappy before buying them.
Here’s what normally happens when someone feels that they need something.
A lot people simply go ahead and purchase whatever it is that they think they need.
Only after they have made the purchase do they realize that the product does not work as they expected, or that it doesn’t solve the problem they had.
So they end up with a useless product, but since the company is making sales, it keeps producing more crappy products.
To avoid this, you should get in the habit of doing some research before making a purchase.
Find out the features of the product, the material it is made from, its pros and cons, and so on.
Search for the product online and find the reviews of other people who have bought the same item. What are they saying about it? Does it work as expected? Are others having some problems with the product?
If everyone made this a habit, crappy, low quality products would gradually experience a decline in sales, and eventually, the companies behind them would be forced to abandon the products and start making better products.
LIMIT YOUR EXPOSURE TO ADVERTISEMENTS
Modern marketers have taken advertising to a whole new level today.
Over the course of a whole year, this equates to more 100 days, almost a third of the whole year.
Whenever you go online, you leave behind a treasure trove of data about yourself. What you like, where you live, what you might be shopping for, and so on.
Marketers use this data to target you with ads for things they know you might be easily convinced to buy.
Aside from that, most of us are bombarded with newsletters and email advertisements in our box giving us discounts and offers to products we have considered buying and products we have never even heard of.
The same thing happens when you visit malls and shopping centers.
Advertising is so commonplace that it is estimated that the average American sees between 4000 and 10,000 advertisements from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep, every single day.
With exposure to so many advertisements, it is inevitable that you will end up getting to convinced to buy some crap you don’t need.
The key to avoiding this is to limit your exposure to advertising.
There are a number of ways in which you can do this. These include:
- Use alternative, privacy focused search engines that do not collect your data or use this data to target you with ads.
- Avoid spending a lot of time in malls and shopping centers, since they are full of advertising whose sole aim is to entice you to walk into the shops and purchase stuff, whether you actually need it or not. Instead, find other places to hang out and have fun where the main activity is not shopping.
- Unsubscribe from newsletters and store emails.
Once you do this, you will reduce the pressure and temptation to buy stuff you don’t actually need.
STOP BUYING THINGS BECAUSE THEY ARE ON SALE
Sales and offers are one of the most effective ways of getting people to buy stuff.
Ever walked into a store to buy some milk, but then you saw that some product was on sale and you ended up buying it? To make matters worse, you have probably never used the product after buying.
To avoid buying useless things that you don’t need, you should stop buying things simply because they are on sale.
Sales are only meant to tap into your psychological responses to convince to purchase things, not because you actually need them, but because you think you are getting a bargain.
But think about it… is it really a bargain when you buy something that you don’t need?
WAIT 48 HOURS BEFORE BUYING
Another factor that contributes to people buying useless crap they do not need is impulse buying.
A lot of people walk into a store to buy one thing, they see something else they had no plans of buying and end up buying this thing they never planned on buying on the spur of the moment.
Of course, if you are in the habit of buying things in the spur of the moment, you will end up buying a lot of useless stuff you do not need.
The most effective way of preventing impulse buying is to get in the habit of giving yourself a 48 hour grace period before buying anything. If you see something that you feel like you want to buy, give yourself 48 hours before going ahead with the purchase.
Waiting for 48 hours before making a purchase has one main advantage.
During this 48 hour grace period, you are giving yourself time for the excitement you had about the project to die down. Without the spur of the moment excitement, you can now think objectively about the product and decide whether it is something you actually need.
If you still decide to go ahead with the purchase after 48 hours, then it shows that it is something that is important to you. For bigger purchases (for instance those exceeding $1000), you can wait about two weeks before making the purchase.
Aside from giving yourself a 48 hour grace period before making a purchase, you should also get in the habit of preparing a list of what you want to buy before you go shopping.
Once you have the list, avoid buying anything that is not in the list.
This way, you will avoid the temptation to purchase needless crap impulsively.
OPT FOR ETHICAL AND ECO-FRIENDLY PRODUCTS
While more companies have become socially and environmentally conscious today, there are still some companies whose production processes and practices are still not ethical or environmentally friendly.
Unfortunately, these companies continue employing such production practices because we are buying their products.
Sure, activists might lobby governments to ban some practices, but ultimately, the most effective way of getting such companies to abandon these practices is to protest with our wallets and stop purchasing their products.
Changes in consumer purchasing behavior has already proven to be very effective.
For instance, at one point, McDonald’s was making their meals with chicken raised using antibiotics.
Unfortunately, there were concerns that using chicken raised with antibiotics was making some human infections to become resistant to antibiotics, something that was contributing to as many as 23,000 deaths in the United States every year.
Initially, McDonald’s ignored the requests of lobbyists to stop using these chicken. However, once people learned the effect of eating these chicken, they started avoiding McDonald’s. With a shrinking customer base and falling profits, McDonald’s finally announced that it was going to stop using chicken raised using antibiotics.
What’s more, this boycott of McDonald’s had an impact on the wider market.
Having seen what McDonald’s went through, companies like Costco Wholesale and KFC also stopped the use of chicken and other meats that had been reared using human antibiotics.
OPT FOR EXPERIENCES INSTEAD OF THINGS
A lot of time, people buy a lot of stuff because they feel that these things will make them happy or make them feel better.
Someone will buy an extra dress or an extra pair of shoes not because they really need the dress or shoes, but because they think the new shoe or dress will make them feel better.
Unfortunately, this kind of thinking fuels into the consumerist mentality that companies are feeding us so that we can keep producing whatever they produce.
To break from this cycle, we need to learn that happiness is not gotten from material stuff, but rather from experiences.
Therefore, next time you need to spend money to make yourself happy, instead of going for an extra pair of shoe or a new electronic gadget, opt for an experience, such as traveling to a new place, visiting the museum, taking yourself or a loved one to a nice dinner, going to see a movie, and so on.
Opting for experiences instead of material things reduces the need to keep buying stuff and more stuff while giving us better satisfaction than we would have gained from buying stuff.
ASK YOURSELF IF YOU ALREADY HAVE SOMETHING ELSE YOU COULD USE IN ITS PLACE
Another factor that has contributed to the production of crappy products is the excessive specialization of products.
For instance, if you go to the beauty section of a store, you will come across different soaps or lotions for using on different parts of the body, such as the face, the hands, the feet, or the body.
Do you really need four different lotions when you can use one lotion for your entire body? Do you need to purchase a banana slicer, an avocado slicer, and a tomato slicer, when you can perform all these tasks with a simple kitchen knife?
This excessive specialization of products is simply a ploy by companies to make money off unnecessary products. Most of these products only have a marginal advantage over general purpose products.
To avoid buying such unnecessary products, and therefore contributing to pollution and increase in greenhouse emissions, ask yourself if you have another product you can use in place of whatever product you are considering purchasing.
Wherever possible, go for the practical product over the excessively specific product.
Today, a lot of companies are producing a lot of crappy products that not only waste consumers’ money, but also contribute to the increasing amounts of waste and greenhouse emissions being generated.
What consumers do not realize is that they have the power to influence what companies produce.
Since the sole aim of companies is to make profits, consumers can prevent companies from making products if only they stop buying crappy products.
To stop buying crap and become more conscious about their purchasing decisions, consumers should only go for high quality products, consider whether they really need the product, do their research before making a purchase, limit their exposure to advertising, stop buying things simply because they are on “sale”, and give themselves a grace period before buying.
As a consumer, you should also opt for ethical and eco-friendly products, opt for experiences over material stuff, and consider if you already have another product you could use in place of whatever it is you are thinking of buying.
I’m a huge fan of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and find his life story to be very inspiring. Among the …