buyerarchy of needs

The Buyerarchy of Needs: Reduce Waste and Save Money

Here are some shocking stats: the average American throws out 81 pounds of clothing a year, and about 81% of wasted household food ends up in a landfill.

Yes, we live in a messed up system where companies are by and large ruining the planet, but we as individuals can be agents of change when it comes to our spending, investing, and everyday choices. I mean, how often have you tossed a piece of clothing in the trash because you were downsizing and didn’t have time to get to Goodwill? (Which btw, ends up trashing a lot of their donations.)

As Americans, we often think the solution to any problem can be found after dealing with the problem for awhile. But a new way of thinking (that’s really an old way of thinking) says “Hey- what if we try and avoid the problem altogether?”

buyerarchy of needs

The Buyerarchy of Needs

Sarah Lazarovic, a climate writer and graphic designer, created a visual guide to shopping that she calls the buyerarchy of needs.

buyerarchy of needs

The pyramid provides a guide to your spending that I think aligns perfectly with our budgeting belief, values based spending.

Much like values based spending, the buyerarchy of needs asks that you get in touch with your personal needs, desires, and lifestyle choices. It asks: do you really need a new top, or can you ask to borrow one from your sister? Borrowing saves you money, time, and is better for the planet- let’s do that!

Initially created with clothing shopping in mind, the buyerarchy of needs can be slightly adjusted and applied to any area of spending.

Let’s take food shopping:

use what you have would be finding a use for those lentils that have been sitting in the back cabinet for 9 months.

borrow- walking over to the neighbors house to ask if they have a cup of sugar rather than buying a 3lb bag you’ll never use all of.

swap- trading a can of black beans your kids hate for a can of chickpeas they’ll actually eat.

thrift- ok I actually don’t think this one applies to food

make- cooking at home as opposed to ordering out

buy- ordering out, going out to eat in person

By following the buyerarchy of needs, we avoid so much that later becomes a problem in our lives. If we don’t overbuy, we don’t need to declutter. If we don’t declutter, we don’t create more waste for a landfill. By not creating waste, we’re not literally throwing away our money.

How the Buyerarchy of Needs Saves You Money

The buyerarchy of needs lays out a clear roadmap to save you money and to lessen your impact on the planet.

Most Americans have a lot of stuff. Take a glance around your home right now; you’ll probably see a lot of items! And I’m not shaming that- in fact, the items you already own could easily be a tool to save future you money.

Notice that the base of the pyramid is “use what you have.” This is the ultimate frugal lesson, and the ultimate eco-conscious lesson. If you can get more mileage from an item you already own, you save more money and lessen the impact on the planet that comes from making new sh*t.

Blanking on how you can use things in a new way? Here are a few ideas:

-Glass jars or (like salsa or yogurt) or chipped mugs can become new plant holders or candles.

-Images from a calendar can be put in frames and become wall art.

-Spare wood from an home project can become a cutting board or a new long lasting bath mat.

Remember: creativity is your friend when it comes to saving money! Cast your new of new usages wide and see what you can do within your own home. The buyerarchy of needs is your guide here.

Have you tried this approach? Do you have any tips for repurposing things you already own, or thrifting tips for the community?

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7 thoughts on “The Buyerarchy of Needs: Reduce Waste and Save Money”

  1. Thanks for the helpful article – I love the idea of the buyerarchy of needs. I’m curious though – why does thrift not apply to food?

      1. This is where I would put fishing, hunting, growing, owning chickens, etc. Just taking a stab at a way to thrift food, but it kind of fits.

        1. Oh interesting, I think thrift implies a previous ownership, so I wouldn’t count any of those as thrifting food. But that’s my take!

        2. Where I grew up there was a “banged up food room” at one of the organic stores, which is what I thought of with “thrift food”. Dented boxes and imperfect produce type stuff.

          1. Yes, I would consider that thrifting! I’ve never seen something like that, personally, but I have heard of it from others.

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