I just read this list on the Mother Nature Network weekly email. If you don't get this service, it's great, but this one really got my attention, particularly after spending 3/4 of last year cleaning out the detritus of my parents' house. They were prodigious collectors of memorabilia, antiques, art, ceramics, books, and anything else that came their way. As a child, I heard "we might need it someday," "this would make a great gift for.... (then buy 5 more for other people)," and "I couldn't possible do without this...."
With a view toward consuming less, conserving more, and generally not burdening our children with unnecessary "stuff" (my mother's most hated word; her things were never to be called "stuff"), check this out:
1. Is this purchase something I need?
2. Do I already own something that will serve the same purpose?
3. Can I borrow one instead of buying new?
4. Can I make something that will serve the same purpose?
5. Can I buy a used one?
6. Would someone be willing to split the cost and share this with me?
7. Can I buy or commission one made locally?
8. Can I buy one that was made with environmentally responsible materials?
9. Can I buy one that serves more than one purpose?
10. Can I get something human powered instead of gas or electric?
11. Can I compost or recycle it when I’m done with it?
12. What is the impact on the environment of the full life cycle of it?
13. Does the manufacture or disposal of it damage the environment?