Purchase with intention to save the planet

Black Friday. Cyber-Monday. Great Singapore Sales. 11.11 Singles sales. The list of sales-related events goes on. And it doesn’t matter where they originate from. These events are created by companies to encourage excessive consumption of services and goods. Companies put up lots of advertisement suggesting whatever products they sells are on limited-time offer, giving you this feeling that you won’t get such deal anymore. So you go and make that purchase, filling your shopping cart (digital or physical) with stuff as you spy more cheap products.

There is nothing wrong with getting the things you need that are on promotion or discount. Money, although renewable, is not infinite in a person’s life and not everyone earn the same amount. It’s often necessary to get something on the cheap so that you have the money to get something else that’s more important. Like maybe getting food for your family.

The main problem here is when you are not being intentional with what you bring into your life. You don’t question the purpose of a specific product or why you need it. You buy more things just because the marketing messages you see make you feel like you need those things. There’s no more intentionality when you let your feelings push you to buy just because they are on sale or you think you want it, rather than needing it.

You see, for every consumer goods we bring into our life, there’s always a cost associated with making them. Most of the time, the cost is in terms of what it does to the environment. Materials and resources needed to make those products could be acquired by companies who engaged in non-sustainable resource exploitation. In their drive to maximise profit, companies aren’t likely to be taking into account the full life cycle of the products. The cheapness of goods due to large-scale manufacturing capabilities with cheap labor from developing countries played a part in the creation of highly-disposable products and the rise of junk products: keychains, fridge magnets, tiny trinkets that you hang on your bags, etc.

And how do they get you to buy those junk products? They market them, make you feel like you need them to feel good. It’s just the nature of our modern free-market economy. When there’s demand, there’s supply. In this case, companies created the demand and they are good at that. They target your emotion centres.

People are emotional creatures. Intentionality takes a lot more effort. Therefore, it’s easy for someone to be influenced by those marketing messages. Buying will be the next logical action.

So the moment you let your emotion dictate what to buy, you will be hooked. It’s like taking drugs or smoke. Before you realise it, you will be demanding more. And companies will gladly supply. Now both parties are complicit in damaging the environment through reckless consumption and discarding of junk products. Bear in mind, most of these junk products aren’t fully recyclable and will go to the landfills, contributing to environment degradation.

Let’s not forget, there’s only one Earth.

So I implore you. If there’s something you need and someone you know can give you that something for free or on the cheap, get it from them instead of buying from companies. Chances are someone you know will have something they don’t want or need and vice versa. If you really have to buy something, question yourself the why before putting the item into your shopping cart.

Why I use Apple products as a minimalist

As a minimalist, it’s all about living your life according to a certain set of values.

One of my values is quality. The things I output or consume has to have a certain quality. In most cases, I buy higher quality stuff, spending more money in the process, to replace the lower quality stuff that I have to get rid of.

Most of the metrics I use to define quality are subjective while some are qualitative. It is usually the subjective ones that make me happy, bring me joy or reduce stress whereas the qualitative ones primarily reduce stress.

This is why I am more than willing to spend the kind of money I do getting Apple products, becoming a fan in the process. Their products have really good build quality, provided convenience due to the tight integration across the products, and simplicity.

Majority of Apple products are well built and well designed. The attention to details given to each product by the Apple’s design and engineering teams is rarely found in other products from other company. The solid feel, simple and clean aesthetic of the exterior, and being highly functional combined bring me joy. With their products, I don’t feel like I’m carrying with me a cheap piece of item that I get from a discount store.

The highly functional aspect of their products bring about convenience for me.

You see, inconvenience is a major stressor for me. All I want to do is to solve more pressing problems with the tools I got and not wanting to deal with the hassles before I even get started on solving those problems. Going through multiple steps to enable an option in a piece of software, the need to install and update device drivers that has no guarantee that they will work 100% of the time, the software not doing what you expect it to do, or it takes a while for you to even understand how to use a piece of software or application are such inconveniences. They stress me out.

And I’m sure everyone knows what stress does to one’s creative process, how stress prevent one from doing their very best.

Unlike Microsoft products, Apple products mostly just works out of the box. I don’t really have to deal with all the hassles I described earlier. Their products are also intuitive and simple to use. With that, the tools get out of my way and I can focus on solving the more important problems. When tools get out of my way, my time is saved, allowing me to do more things within the same 24 hours everyone else has. Time saved is the qualitative metric that I use to judge the quality of something. How much inconvenienced I am is the subjective metric I use to judge the quality.

Other than quality, the other value that is equally important is security. I feel safe when my data is well-protected and private enough. If my data is not well-protected and private enough, it means criminals and the government can use my data against me if they do get their hands on it.

That strips away my security, which increases my stress and unhappiness, which is not what being a minimalist is about. At least in my view.

Now, before bashing me about the naivety of my subsequent statements, I will state up front that I recognize Apple may change their privacy and security model that completely expose the user and make them less safe and private, and get to keep a plaintext copy of whatever your store or send but that’s another topic for another day. When that day do come, then I will re-evaluate again.

At least for now, I do feel safe with storing personal data on Apple devices and their cloud storage and trust that my data is not readable by anyone. Their devices like Apple Watch and iPhones come with built-in encryption that protects your data, including your fingerprints and credit card information. The MacBooks and iMacs with latest Mac OS support encryption through APFS and/or FileVault. Their software services like iCloud uses end-to-end encryption with keys that only you own for the data you choose to store there, preventing unauthorized access or views.

So this is why buying stuff and using stuff from a company such as Apple as a minimalist isn’t wrong. It is not wrong either to be fan. If it helps you to live in accordance to your values, then you shouldn’t feel guilty about the whole thing. You just have to be very intentional about it.