US green design guru Victor Papanek says there are 10 crucial question you should ask yourself shopping.
1 Do I really need it?
Yet even if we can honestly say that we do need the object, and are sure that we are not buying it in the forlorn hope that it will make us more powerful, wiser, or more attractive, nor prompted by some temporary whim or the seductive whisperings of the advertisers, we face many further decisions.
- Will something else serve the same purpose, possibly something I already own?
- Can I use a different method to accomplish the same task?
- Do I understand the device, or do I have a friend who can explain the advantages or disadvantages?
- Is it well made and made to last?
- Can faults be readily diagnosed?
- Can it be repaired and will spare parts be available?
- Does it have extra features that may be unnecessary, yet add to the number of things that could go wrong?
- Could it atrophy some of my skills?
At one university after the students had left, building services found more than a thousand shirts, scores of dresses and suits, as well as enough cosmetics to satisfy a small town, all still in the original wrappings.
3 Can I buy it at a discount?
These and so-called “remaindered” books can all usually be bought at shops that specialize in such goods.
4 Can I borrow it?
Most of these tools are only needed for small repairs around the house, and their proud owners are happy to lend them out and see them used.
5 Can I rent it?
Some places specialize in renting out furniture and major electrical appliances to students or other temporary residents; some shops rent drinking glasses, cutlery and table settings for parties and receptions.
6 Can I lease it?
With the ever more rapid technological changes in personal computers, and the obsolescence of entire hardware systems within years rather than decades, it is obvious that leasing a home-computer is a better idea than buying.
7 Can I share it?
There is no question that this place would also serve as the local recycling centre.
8 Can we own it as a group?
It is obvious that this example could serve as a template for sharing in many other fields.
9 Can I build it myself?
This cultivates a close relationship between using and making, being and becoming.
10 Can I buy a kit?
If self-assembly were to be combined with Design for Disassembly, the aesthetic results would be radical and fresh.
(Extracted from The Green Imperative by Victor Papanek)