I remember learning about the concept of wants and needs back in grade school.
Worksheets were handed out with a wants column and a needs column for us to fill out and eventually the class shared what they had in each column.
I still remember how easy it was to fill up the wants column.
As people get older, the line between these two columns becomes more like a gray area.
Concepts like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs allow us to think in less material terms about personal needs to be happy and successful throughout life.
In grade school, we focused on the bottom level of base needs.
As I’ve grown up, I better understand that even with that level met, it doesn’t guarantee happiness.
Humans are complex and desire things like a sense of belonging and a meaningful purpose.
Something interesting about this in developed countries is that more people have the opportunity to make it into the upper levels of the hierarchy. They don’t have to worry about base needs as often as people in countries that are still developing.
Here in America, we often have the privilege to live life to what some would consider a fuller extent than others by ascending these levels.
However, what many may not consider is the way that the resulting lifestyles can affect those who are less privileged or affect all of beautiful creation in general.
Whether people are fully aware of it or not, many things bought and used each day are produced at the expense of human dignity.
Indignity comes in the form of an underpaid and overworked factory worker.
Indignity also comes in the form of pollution and waste, hurting the beautiful world the Lord has given us to live on and take care of.
Indignity comes from ignorance and apathy, and it’s something that needs some serious attention.
So what does this have to do with wants and needs?
Well, I think that conscious buying choices are at the intersection of things we want and things we need.
By supporting more ethical businesses and making lifestyle changes that work to help the environment, people can fulfill both base needs and higher psychological needs.
When you make a purchase that you know helps someone in need, it can be much more rewarding and give you greater satisfaction knowing that you aren’t supporting a business that doesn’t treat its workers fairly.
It can also be helpful in stepping away from material obsession by focusing you in on buying quality items you actually need rather than things that are appealing because of a low price point that you may not even want.
Information is out there about how to be more aware of companies that align with your values and are more ethical.
I personally find YouTube to be a great place to start when wanting to work on living more sustainably and ethically.
Fast fashion, fair trade and zero waste are all great related topics to search.
Find what interests you most and start there.
No step is too small, and changes don’t happen overnight, so be patient and take time to appreciate the thoughtfulness of this type of lifestyle.
God gave us one beautiful planet with amazing people on it, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to treat all of it with love and respect.