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I Challenge You To BUY SUSTAINABLY!!!

The Buy Sustainably Challenge!

Hooray, A New Challenge!

There have been several Buy Nothing Challenges in the past couple of years, including the most recent one from Crunchy Chicken. Those are great, as they teach us that we really can get through a whole month without buying much (if anything) at all. However, the reality is that normally we do buy stuff in our everyday lives.

Because of the current credit crisis, now is a good time to get our finances together and spend as little as we can. So let’s take the awareness we gained from the Buy Nothing Challenge, and make it sustainable for the long term. And, let’s take it to the next level, where buying what we do need helps us become positive – and active – members of our communities.

Enter: The Buy Sustainably Challenge!

Follow These Five Steps For Buying Sustainably:

  1. Ask Yourself if You Really Need to Buy it. Do you need it at all, or is it something you could live without? Can you reuse or repurpose something you already have? Maybe you have an old one in the garage that could be fixed up nicely (with the bonus of adding a repurposed/reused charm)? Or can you borrow it from a neighbor, friend or family, or even make it yourself? Also while we all need food, starting a garden will mitigate what you have to buyyou can grow vegetables year round. Plus when you start that garden, don’t buy seedlings – grow them from seed, and then save your own seeds for next year!

  2. Buy Locally. Drive as little as possible to get the item, and buy it from a locally-owned and –operated business. It’s even better if the business makes the products locally, or has a local source for them.

  3. Buy Fair Trade. Buy the item from a manufacturer that pays its workers an honest wage. AND Buy from a business with good business practices. If you have a choice, go for the business that gives back to the community, pays its workers well and gives them health insurance, and has good customer service. You may even find a business that has been built with sustainable building practices, and has taken steps to reduce its daily carbon impact.

  4. Buy Green. This means different things to different people, but essentially, minimize the impact the item has on the environment, including the materials used to produce and package it.

  5. Buy it to Last. Think twice about going cheap and easy. It’s no good for your pocketbook or the environment if you have to throw away an item when it breaks or looks ugly in a year or two, and then you have to buy another one. Instead, buy something that will last 5, 10 years – or better, a lifetime. For furniture, look at used furniture and antiques – what you find may cost the same as an item from IKEA, and it will last long enough to hand it down to your kids or your friends or someone in need. If you can’t afford good quality, wait a few months and save up to buy a good quality product that will last. In the long run, it will cost less in time, money, and environmental impact.


When it comes to cost, you have to redefine normal. Cost includes the amount of money you pay for an item, as well as what the environment and society pay for that item. If you can’t or won’t pay the money for a sustainable item, you must reevaluate. Because that’s how much it costs.

When you consider the future of our planet, our neighborhoods, and those of our children, there is no alternative to the sustainable solution. The other products out there –that exploit the environment and our society- those don’t work, those aren’t sustainable. Choose to ignore them. It’s difficult, but you can do it.

Redefine normal, redefine the true cost. It’s not about guilt, it’s about sticking to your beliefs as you live your life. Every day. If it helps you, think about what your grandparents would have done, and where they would have gone when they needed something.


  • Craigslist
  • Freecycle
  • Local Thrift Stores
  • Neighborhood Garage Sales and Flea Markets
  • Local Yellow Pages and Google
  • Other Local Bloggers
  • Word of Mouth (ask your neighbors and friends where they buy things locally, ask local businesses where you might find what it is you’re looking for)
  • Explore the Neighborhood on Foot or by Bicycle!

Please Add Your Name Below In The Comments And Start Buying Sustainably!

I know there are lots of you out there who have never commented here before. And I know there are lots of you who don’t have blogs of your own. That doesn’t matter! Introduce yourselves and join us! Pretty please??!!

I’ll be writing about steps I take to redefine how I buy things. I may even post a video or two. And I’ll host some conversational pieces to get us all talking about how we’re doing and such. Feel free to report in here or on your own blog about what you’re doing, how you’re doing, and so on. Don’t be shy, it helps us all when you talk about your experiences!


Here’s a doodad to add to your sidebar if you like – it helps spread the word, and helps us get to know each other:

The Buy Sustainably Challenge!

(If you want a bigger image, the one up top will link to a bigger version.)

To add the button to your blog, right-click on the image and save it to your desktop. Then upload it to your blog as you would any other image, with a link to:

Oh, and once you’ve uploaded the image, check to make sure the link works and the image loads correctly. Feel free to email me if you have any problems and I’ll see if I can help.

Sign Up Below!

In a comment below, leave your name and blog address if you have a blog. Also feel free to add any tips, tricks, questions, or thoughts. Let’s do it!

  1. Rob, Rob’s World
  2. Jennifer, Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings
  3. Amber, Unstuffed
  4. LatigoLiz, Cowgirl Up
  5. Nature Deva
  6. Allison, It’s The Little Thinks
  7. Lori, Life In Webster Groves
  8. Deb G, Bee Creative
  9. Chaiselounge (Teleri), Olives And Artichokes
  10. TMC, Return To Rural
  11. Phil
  12. Stephany, Naturally Simple
  13. Bel, Belinda Moore
  14. Cici, Whimsical Ponderings
  15. Dawna
  16. Jenni, My Web Of Life
  17. Mel
  18. Tammy, Adventures On Beck’s Bounty
  19. Helene, Southwestern Ontario Locavore
  20. Deanna, Our Plain And Simple Life
  21. Kristi
  22. Melissa, Green Gal
  23. Renee, FIMBY
  24. Kaytea
  25. EnviroKat, Enviro-Kat Chat
  26. You?

Similar Posts:

66 comments to I Challenge You To BUY SUSTAINABLY!!!

  • You Know I love a challenge! The only thing I gotta buy is some lamp parts for some electrical lamps I am making for Christmas- I actually re-used the lamp works from an old lamp, and I make the bodies from old liqour bottles bottles- So yup sign me up!

  • This is a great challenge – we already try to do this anyway, but this will give us that extra kick in the pants we need to keep sustainability in mind no matter what we are purchasing. We also don’t have a car which helps – we’ve noticed a significant reduction is “useless crap” purchases since we no longer own a car. It is fairly inconvenient to lug useless stuff home on the bus or on foot.

    This will also give me the kick in the pants I need to check out Freecycle and Craigslist. Oh, and also make me more creative in repurposing items. Thanks for this challenge, I hope you keep it up for awhile, especially as the holiday season rolls around (my least favorite time of the year – I love seeing my family, but the copious consumption – NO THANK YOU.)

    Thanks for doing this challenge – sign me and my partner Brett up!

  • O.k. I’m finally going to do it! This is my first green blog challenge. Thanks for encouraging folks to take this on.

  • I’m in! I try to do it for the most part already, but I can try harder. :)

  • Forgot to add:
    I buy my meat from the local butcher. I buy my produce from the local produce stand.
    If I have to shop at a “big box” store, I go to a northwest-based one.
    I utilize my local feed store and try to buy “locally” produced feed products if at all possible.
    CL and FC are awesome resources for both acquiring and getting rid of “stuff.”

  • We do this already, too. My husband has a small woodshop and makes unique furniture and other items (including some of my son’s toys). We almost always buy reclaimed or salvaged wood first and shop on freecycle (big group in my town which is great!), craigslist and also we have 2 places where you can donate what you don’t want and others can buy it – like a thrift store but for bldg. materials.

    One is called “ReStore” which benefits Habitat For Humanity and another is just local to my county and is called Resource and the money goes back into supporting county projects. We have renovated 2 previous homes and this current one with mostly reclaimed wood and even lots of plumbing items – we are renovating a bathroom in our home this year and just picked up a beautiful jacuzzi tub and pump from ReStore (which I really need for my back issues). Luckily my husband can do everything incl. plumbing and will install it (and to code) so we have saved tons of money while making our homes beautiful and did it the sustainable way.

    We are currently working on bldg. our greenhouse that is all reclaimed windows and wood from freecycle and ReStore. We actually are disappointed when we have to go and buy new wood or anything for any project when the other places just don’t have any.

    We also shop this way for personal items, too and I have found some great presents already for my son for xmas from the thrift store (hand made bi-wing wooden airplane that’s huge) and even on Freecycle.

    When we shop for new items, I try to support our local shops in our county but if they don’t have what I want or I know they’ve brought it in from elsewhere, I will also look at the closeout stores near me (Marshalls, Big Lots, Tues. Morning) for the same things and they usually have good stuff at a good price and you can find sustainably made items like bamboo or reclaimed metal and wood, organic cotton, etc. You have to learn how to look for what you really want and for the items that will last.

    I most like to support the really small local shops that are trying to do a good thing like our local pet food store – really high quality food that costs more than the big box stores but it’s better for my pets and the woman that owns it is very knowledgeable and really supports animals and educating people about the right way to take care of your pets.

  • I did a don’t buy “crap” post today. I call it crap because it usually is. I use to be nice on my blog and call them useless or needless things but let’s face it if we don’t need it, it is usually crap. Or at the very least wasteful.

    Your post is awesome and I will be putting your banner on my blog for infinity.

    Count me in.

  • I’m in. I’ve been working on buying less and supporting more small and local businesses, but this may inspire me to work a little harder at it.

  • These are the guidelines I use for shopping too. I actually had something similar written on my chalkboard for a year or so (which is painted on one of my doors) so that I could see it every time I walked out the door.

    I agree with Jennifer. Not having a car really helps in cutting back. As long as you don’t give in to the urge to have things brought to your doorstep! :)

  • Thanks for publicising the idea of buying sustainably. It is a challenge, but a very worthwhile one for everyone’s future. This is how we try to live – buying local food as far as possible, and being part of the community. As you say this is important too – it’s not just about commerce but about society. I’ll put the ‘doodad’ on my blog today!

  • Hooray! I’m glad some of you are signing up! Hope more of you do as well… ; )

    I’ll be creating a page this weekend, where I’ll centralize our names, and the posts with this topic. I’m looking forward to it! Please chime in and let me know what would be helpful to you as you strive to live more locally.

    Rob, Rob has already posted about it! Wahoo, go Rob! And those lamps sound fabulous.

    Jennifer, A kick in the pants – exactly what we all need sometimes! : ) Interesting correlation between stuff and having a car – wow. Come to think of it, though, I know I buy less stuff now that I walk most places. Great point!

    Freecycle – I looooove Freecycle. I’ve also met some amazing people through Freecycle! I will keep it up. I purposefully did not put an end date to this challenge (or the Green Your Insides Challenge or The Growing Challenge), because I don’t want anyone to stop doing it after a month. These are lifestyle changes! So, as long as there is interest, the challenges will continue!! Especially through the holidays.

    Amber, Awesome! So glad you’re joining us! And I’m honored that this is your first challenge. : ) Amber has also written about the challenge already!

    LatigoLiz, Excellent! Great resources, too – thanks for adding those.

    Nature Deva, Oooh, yes! Reclaimed building materials sites are fabulous, and even some landfills and recycling depots have reusable items you can purchase for cheap. Auto salvage yards are great for car parts. I love that your husband makes some of your son’s toys!!

    “You have to learn how to look for what you really want and for the items that will last.” That’s a really good point!

    Pet stores – yes, my dog loves our local pet store – they shower him with cookies and love. : )

    Allison, For infinity! I love it. Thank you! Great post, too. Check it out here – she lists some extra resources there, too.

    Lori, Hooray!! And happy birthday! : ) I’m glad you’re joining in!

    Deb G, Great idea! I’ve actually wondered if I should suggest that anyone can print out the large version and put it on their fridge as a reminder (but then there’s the paper issue… I like the chalkboard idea!).

    Shhh, don’t give anyone any ideas about delivery. The idea is to go out into our communities! : )

    Teleri, Wonderful! Ah, I see Kate is there! I’m looking forward to seeing her in a couple of weeks!

    I’m so glad you’re joining in. Exactly, for the economy/commerce, society, and the well-being of our planet!

  • Can we compromise? Say, buy one or two pieces of clothing at Goodwill before succumbing to the lure of Old Navy? Just to introduce myself to the idea of buying from thrift stores?

    (Please don’t add me to the challenge–I want to INTRODUCE myself to buying sustainably, not charge in headlong…)

  • Phil

    Great idea. I have been living this way for some time and find it hard to talk to others about. Especially significant others. The best convincing article I have found is .
    Are there better resources out there to convince others of the need to economize and take up challenges like this?

  • TMC, Excellent!

    Stephanie, Yes, great idea! I should note that of course this is a lifelong change that doesn’t happen overnight and I don’t expect it to! So, please introduce it to yourself. Try it out, start thinking about it more and more as you’re ready. But I will ask you this: will you try to take #1 to heart as often as you possibly can?

    Phil, Great question and thank you for the link to the Oil Drum article. I’ve been thinking about this since you asked the question, and I will write a whole post about it in the next few days. It’s an important question!

    Sorry for taking so long to respond you all. In my head, I’d already responded, but some how it never made it into the comments… sheesh. Too much going on! Apologies!

  • Ummm. Well, that’s a good question. The thing is that I don’t know HOW I can ask that of myself even more. My problem has never been with convincing myself that I don’t need something but with convincing myself that I DO need something. I only go shopping for clothes about once a year, and I usually send a larger bag to Goodwill than what I bring home. I do a lot more online window-shopping than pulling out my credit card and buying things.

    I definitely can – and am trying to – take this question more to heart when I go grocery-shopping. Last year I had no idea how I spent so much from month to month. This year I’m trying to stay within my ‘budget’.

    So, yeah. I do ask myself whether or not I need things. Too much sometimes. Agonizing over buying something that will truly give me pleasure for a long time? Not really a good idea. I have enough stress without pressuring myself to not spend $20/month on something that’ll get my mind off of things.

  • [...] want to write about the Green Your Insides Challenge and the Growing Challenge and the Buy Sustainably Challenge, but every time I start to write, the subject seems hollow in the face of widespread fear and [...]

  • [...] So… I’ve been watching Rob’s new challenge for a while, sitting off on the sidelines. And it kills me to sit on the sidelines of such a great challenge! It’s brilliant. Particularly brilliant because it perfectly falls in line with the Buy Sustainably Challenge. [...]

  • I’ve posted one response to the challenge today. Although we do try to live sustainable all the time and we don’t buy much!

  • Awesome, Teleri – going to check it out right now!

  • I joined late because I am just beginning to expore all the green blogs out there and thought this looked like fun.

    We have been living like this for a long time now but it will be fun to talk to others who are as well.

  • Stephany, Great! I’m happy you’ve joined, and I look forward to reading more about your great sustainable buys. I love the grinder!

  • [...] whether or not you formally take a pledge, please buy local, humane, and sustainable foods this week.  It is important. And fun. And tasty. And I must say, there is so much more [...]

  • [...] belts a bit. My favorite online store stopped selling my favorite shampoo and I’m trying to buy locally. Plus, since I researched all those crazy chemicals in shampoos, I’ve been leery of getting [...]

  • [...]  Buy sustainably.  Buy used, make gifts if you can, buy from local small businesses who are probably also [...]

  • [...] 1 January, 2009 Filed under: General — Bel @ 5:49 pm I’ve decided to take up Melinda’s Challenge!  So for every purchase in 2009 I’ll hopefully be asking myself : 1. Do You Really Need It? [...]

  • Bel

    Hi Melinda!

    Better late than never, I’m joining your challenge as a focus of the new year…

    I have posted about it on my main blog, and put a clickable image on my garden blog too. Having image issues with my main site (wordpress glitch?) but it’ll be fixed soon I hope.

    Thanks so much for your challenges and inspiration.


  • Welcome, Belinda!! Sorry to hear about your site glitch – I know all about those with my old blog and they are frustrating. I’m glad you’re joining the challenge – it’s on-going, so anyone can join at any time.

    Here’s to an absolutely wonderful and sustainable New Year!!

  • Back in the blog world! Thanks Melinda for the comment on my blog note on the pickles coming from India back a few months ago. I’ve been busy since May selling a house, moving, and getting more land to garden in! Things are now getting back to normal.

    I am in for this latest challenge, and in fact have a goal related to it on my 43things goal list! I am adding the image to my blog, and will be updating it more frequently now that I am settled!

    Happy New Year to you!

  • Hi Cici, welcome back and Happy New Year to you, too!

  • Dawna

    Love your blog, Melinda, lots of great ideas and a wonderful source of information. I’m all about sustainable living, but there’s always room for improvement!

  • What a great challenge to start the new year! (I’m a bit late, I know). I just found your blog today and I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts.
    I’m going to add your doodad to my sidebar to hopefully inspire my readers to shop sustainably as well. Thanks for the challenge!

  • Mel

    Great challenge!

    I try to buy local as uch as possible and I also check the thrift stores before buying a brand new item.
    Bookswaps are wonderful and the good “old” library.
    I also invest in wonderful large mason jars and other glass containers for storage instead of plastic ones.

  • [...] MELINDA’S BUY SUSTAINABLY CHALLENGE: Did pretty well for this week- Only Groceries and a few pieces of hardware that was needed. Did buy two Storage Bins to make earthtainers out of [...]

  • Hi Melinda. I’ve just posted about the cold frame we’ve made entirely from recycled materials. Happy Sustainable New Year!

  • [...] week, I mentioned that I had begun taking part in a couple of challenges. The Buy Sustainably Challenge has come relatively easy for me. I’m not sure why. I’ve always been one to be up for a [...]

  • Fabulous cold frame, chaiselounge! You make it look so easy!

  • Wonderful, Tammy – will do!

  • [...] tips and advice.  Along with challenges that will hopefully educate and motivate you.  Like the Buy Sustainably Challenge or info about the 100 mile diet.  Rob has personally turned his yard into a certified Wildlife [...]

  • [...] not ready to save seeds yet, you can start with the basic Growing Challenge – or try the Buy Sustainably Challenge or Green Your Insides Challenge.  Lots to choose from – or choose all of the [...]

  • We are planting, recycling, buying local, supporting small businesses rather than the “giants”, conserving, preserving, and reusing as much as possible, all while trying to go green as much as possible.

    On another note, we are using Heirlooms, but are unable to save seed because we live in the middle of a commerical dairy farm (not our farm).

    So in all respects except saving seeds, count us in !!

    Tammy & 6 Cherubs
    Tennessee (Zone 7)

  • [...] this concept (you should be able to just click on the image above, but you can also find the info here). [...]

  • Just found this now on Amber’s blog (Unstuffed) – not sure how I missed it before! What a great challenge. I have been trying to stick to these rules for some time now (my New Year’s resolution) but I love how you have set it up as a challenge. Especially since I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve allowed myself to slip a little too often of late. BAD! So I’m definitely in! I posted about this in my blog but haven’t figured out how to set it up as a side-bar yet. May need to email you for help if I don’t get it working.

    Thanks for the wonderfully succinct summary of how to live more sustainably!

  • Kristi Gilleland

    I think that should be listed.

    It helps folks connect with other gardeners to trade extra produce, seeds, herbs, and the like.

  • [...] A post that could only be written by a superhero – Conscious Consumption is one of the most exhaustive lists I’ve read about the many options you have when you are trying to Buy Sustainably. [...]

  • [...] Happy shopping! Remember- Buy Sustainably!! [...]

  • I’m in! Sounds like a great set of guidelines and I’m definitely going to keep them handy.

    P.S. Love the website! It’s been really helpful :)

  • Wonderful, Melissa – you’re added to the list. And thank you for the compliment – it’s good to hear!

  • [...] I’m not perfect – I do buy some new clothes to support my professional lifestyle (and try to buy them sustainably), but I also find nice used clothes in local thrift stores.  I don’t make my own meals every [...]

  • Add me to the list! I’ve posted the button at my blog sidebar, 2 separate spots:


    & Here:

  • [...] hosted The Buy Sustainably Challenge. Again, I’ve seen this little icon in many places around the blogosphere, so I’m not [...]

  • Kaytea

    Hi there!
    I suggest that Neighborhood Fruit ( and their new iPhone app (Find Fruit) should be listed as resources to find healthy, sustainable food at affordable prices.


  • Right, count me in, I’m going to see how I go! :)

    Already doing lots of this, but would like to do more, thanks for the inspiration.

  • EnviroKat, welcome to the challenge! As I inspire you, you inspire me. :)

  • posting tomorrow….great challenge….i am a new blogger….

  • I am a new blogger, but love your challenge and initiatives here. Good luck!

  • This is an excellent idea – love it! We really do our best to shop sustainably, ethically, and green when we have to make purchases. We also love to find new uses for our old items, donate anything we don’t want, and of course recycle the rest. Kudos to you for doing this, and for all of the other wonderful folks taking part. Peace. ;)

  • we always need the reminder of question one?

  • I love your tip, buy it to last. Many times people choose a landscape contractor or landscape designer or the entire landscape installation based on price. A well built landscaping project should last 20 years or more when designed and done correctly. Bravo for these ideas!

  • Have added your badge to my sidebar. Buying locally is a dream, have to settle for choosing African rather than imported.

  • I just found your blog and signed up for the challenge. I’d also like to sign up for the Gardening Challenge, but I’m not sure where to sign up.

  • Oops, I’ve had your badge on my page for ages but never realised you were meant to sign up… well, here i am ^^

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