I’m getting started baking sourdough, and not buying things firsthand sure makes it more tricky. Need a bread pan? Your local thrift shop might have one. Need a razor sharp enough to score your loaf? How about a pizza peel? Good luck buddy.

Maybe I ought to say what I mean by not buying things first-hand.

Basically, I’m concerned that practically anytime I buy something at retail, I’ve contributed in some way or another to someone’s suffering. I don’t think this is some eternal truth about the world, rather, I think there’s enough exploitation happening in the current global marketplace that I can hardly imagine doing the research on each and every product I buy in order to figure out if my purchase involves cruelty.

Instead, it seems simpler to take a blanket approach. I don’t contribute to oppressive factory conditions if I don’t buy from the manufacturer or retailer. As a bonus, I get to feel that sense of meaning that comes from making a conscious effort to live out my values.

But I’m a long way from freeganism or complete avoidance of retail markets, so here’s a working explanation for what I’m doing(I may make adjustments as I go):

  1. Let’s start by getting this out of the way: I’m buying consumable products first-hand. At this point that means food, paper products,cleaning supplies… anything that is meant to be replaced regularly. I’m hoping to up the ante on this one by slowly phasing out the consumables that I buy. But for now I wouldn’t know how to live without them, to be honest.
  2. What am I not buying retail? Anything else. Clothes, kitchen items, tools, furniture, appliances, etc.
  3. What’s not retail? In addition to second-hand items, I’m counting damaged or otherwise unsalable goods as ethically purchasable. Basically, if it would otherwise be headed for the trash, it’s ok to buy. I give preference to secondhand items, though, and might tighten this down at a later date as well.
  4. We can call today the first official day of the journey.

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