To Buy or Not to Buy?

Buying Help

Two years ago I had the pleasure of attending the American Institute of Graphic Artists’ (AIGA) 2004 Gain Conference in New York. Although the bulk of the conference included motivational speech about a designer’s social and environmental responsiblity, one speaker—Christopher Hacker, the then creative & marketing director of Aveda jumped in and spoke about (among other things) how to make environmentally conscious decisions as a consumer (and as a designer).

In addition to his well delivered talk, Hacker gave everyone in the audience a small, well designed pop-up desk piece (printed on recycled paper) entitled, “The Thirteen Key Questions to Ask Before We Design Specify or Buy ANYTHING.” Although a self proclaimed minimalist, (and keeping in mind this conference was over 2 years ago) I kept that piece and still use it today when I am faced with the question, “Should I buy this”?

The Thirteen Key Questions to Ask Before We Design, Specify, or Buy Anything

01 Do we need it?

02 Can we do without it?

03 Can we borrow, rent or get it used?

04 Is the project/product designed to minimize waste?

05 Can it be smaller, lighter or made from fewer materials?

06 Is it designated to be durable or multi-functional?

07 Does it use renewable resources?

08 Is reuse practical and encouraged?

09 Are the product and/or packaging refillable, recyclable or repairable?

10 Is it made with post-consumer recycled (PCR) or reclaimed materials and how much?

11 Is it available in a less toxic form? Can it be made with less toxic materials?

12 Is it available from a socially and environmentally responsible company?

13 Is it made locally?