What is the Buyerarchy and how do I use it?

You may have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but have you heard of the Buyerarchy? Originally coined by Sarah Lazarovic, it’s a helpful guide to walk through whenever we find ourselves needing something (or really, really wanting it but knowing that we don’t need it). More than a guide though, it’s a way to slow down and give ourselves a chance to consider what we need and alternative ways of filling that void. 

Use What You Have. This sounds easier than it actually is sometimes but with time and practice we can realize how much of what we need can actually be replaced or made with things that we already have. A few steps for this process are to: 

Become familiar with everything that you currently own. It can be tricky retrieving or even knowing what we all own when it’s stored away in the attic, junk drawers, or abandoned closets. So getting a sense of what you have is a great step in making sure that it’s used. Try doing some spring cleaning or making a physical or mental catalogue of the contents of storage space. Do you have lots of old sheets that you no longer use? Jars from pasta sauce? Pots from years of gardening? Paint from old projects? Books from when you were in school or when the kids were younger?

Repurpose your things. If you need some more paper towels, why not cut up some old sheets or towels and use them instead. Do you need a vase for some flowers? Grab one of the jars and stuff them in! (make sure to cut off the end and put in water of course). Have extra wood laying around from past projects? Make a bee hotel or a garden box. Do you need a birthday card? Tear out pages from those old books and make a cute and crafty card instead.

Repair. If you need an item because your last one broke, try repairing it before searching for a replacement. iFixit is a site with hundreds of manuals for cars, cameras, gaming stations, phones, computers, and tablets. There are also lots of repair shops around town that could help you repair your clothes, cars, electronics, shoes, and furniture. 

Borrow. I will admit that this step kind of stretches my comfort zone but here are some tips to ease you into the process. 

Borrow from friends and family first. Maybe even start a little group chat between your siblings and pals so that everyone can keep in contact and check in with things that they only need to use for a few days. Before buying new clothes for a special occasion like a wedding or party, maybe ask around to see if anyone would lend you something. This is actually how I end up with lots of great hand me downs; I’ll borrow something that the person doesn’t wear much and then the lender will just offer it to me because it’s something that they haven’t worn in years. I do the same goes for many of my friends as well. 

Lend to others. It’s a psychological trick that if you do something for someone, they will feel an obligation or openness to do something back for you. So if you’re feeling nervous about the thought of asking your neighbour to borrow their lawnmower, try lending them your bike or bake them a plate of cookies, or lend them a cup of sugar. Just this small interaction can create a sense of openness and reciprocity.

Borrow from the library. The Lethbridge Library actually has a stock of games, toys, sewing machines, and sports equipment available to lend. 

Post on the Swap & Buy groups. If there’s something that your friends and family don’t have, then shoot your shot and try asking if someone on the groups would mind lending you the item you need. You never know.

Rent it. Another form of borrowing is to rent something. This is especially handy for tools or appliances that you just need once or a few times. There’s no point in purchasing it. Places like Wards Rentals, Home Depot, Cooper Equipment Rentals, etc. are a great place for tools.

Swap. Swapping items can sometimes feel a little more fair since both parties are receiving something that they want, so maybe this will be more in your comfort zone. The easiest way to do this is to do everything in the borrow section but then ask if there’s something that the other person wants that you could exchange. This probably won’t work for renting items….since businesses have to make money, but you never know. Let us know if you tried it and it worked!

Thrift. Secondhand stores are more than just clothing these days. Stores that sell specific items including everything from video games to sports equipment are increasingly common. And of course, a variety of treasures can be found at garage sales and antique shops as well.

Beyond thrifting at actual stores, keep an eye out for clothing swaps which are usually held by churches, real estate sales, yard sales, and even scrolling through Kijiji. They’re all great ways to find used, but new-to-you items.

If you’re worried about leaving your house to go thrifting, and rightfully so, there are also online thrift stores like ThredUp and Poshmark where you can purchase second hand clothing from the safety of your home. Some stores like Pategonia and MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) even offer their customers the option of returning clothes for credit and selling these second hand clothes once more. 

If you’d like more tips on new ways to thrift and pick high quality clothing, check out this lady.

Make. I applaud you if you have the skill and tenacity to make items that you need. I am not particularly handy in this department but I do know that having some basic sewing skills (maybe a sewing machine), some basic tools (screw drivers, an adjustable wrench, pliers, a drill and bits, a hammer, a level, and tape measure) using youtube videos can get you a long way in making a lot of things. 
Buy. Ok, you’ve used what you have, borrowed and swapped for things you need, and even made a few things, but say there is just something that you can’t or don’t want to go without buying. My only piece of advice to buy high quality items from sustainable sources. Search for items made with high quality materials (wool, leather, cotton, silk, cashmere), with long warranties (some brands, like these socks, even have lifetime warranties), and companies that back up their sustainability claims with actions. If you’re looking for a good place to start looking, check out Buy Me Once (a company that assesses products). They say “We’re demanding longer-lasting products, better guarantees and responsible manufacturing. By offering only the most long-lived products out there, we want to empower consumers to buy less, and buy better.”

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