April 3, 2015


First of all I want to make clear I'm not judging or pointing at anyone's life or consumerist choices. If you have a good salary and are into big brands like Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana or if all your shopping is made in the Mall is not our business. You are free to do anything you want with your money.

My aim with this post is to share my process of conscious shopping for a more sustainable and eco-friendly life. Also to discuss this subject with you and learn new healthier behaviors. When you travel many months to different countries you will learn about other cultures, it's natural that you start re-think about all the stuff you buy and have. Some poor countries live with less and they are so happy. Just because I'm used to have all kind of toys and buy all the clothes I want doesn't mean I can change that. Mostly, I started opening my mind for shopping subjects, with my low budget while traveling I have to make choices and before buying something I talk to myself - "Marta, do you really need this or you just love it?", "Is it quality material? Will last for few years?", "Is the price fair or can you get the same thing for less?"

This process is being quite easy for me, since I started to buy second hand comic books when I was only 7 years old without my parents knowing, they were against me buying stuff that belonged to someone else. But for the price of a new one I could get 5! At some point I started trading them as well. When I was around 18, I started selling in Flea Markets because I needed extra money and also I have gypsy blood and love the vibe of markets, the connection with other vendors, to bargain as a fun game. Slowly I started understanding that buying/selling second hand is a great option of recycling, or better, of reusing.

Where, why and how do I buy the daily necessities?


I mostly buy vegetables, fruits and grains. I try to avoid meat and I eat seafood, including fish. Every Wednesday morning there's a local market where I buy all I need for the week. I also buy in this market: honey, cheese, herbal tea (no tea bags for me, please), spices like oregano, all kinds of nuts, etc. For stuff like yogurt, rice/almond milk, juices, I go to local mini markets. What happens is that many times they don't have rare products like almond milk and then I have to go to the Super Market. That's my last option because even though prices are better, your money is going to a billionaire who pays low salaries and spend mostly of his money investing, instead spending with locals. Spending your money locally raise economy. Nowadays when I buy something in a supermarket I feel bad and guilty... I know is not a lot of stuff but still.

Another thing, I always try to avoid buying in cans, if there's the same product in glass jars I will choose that one so I can reuse them for my grains. I also try not to buy lentils or sunflower seeds in plastic packages, I try to buy them by kilo and place in a glass jar.
Very important: Bring always your own bags. I always bring a backpack and a fabric big bag with me so don't have to bring more plastic bags, more garbage in this World, more waste. I love the new Portugal policy: 10 cents for each bag, it's incredible, everybody brings their own bags now, yey!

I eat in restaurants few times a month. Usually one or two really expensive restaurants per year. I always pick local restaurants and never MacDonalds or other fast food places because food is fresh and healthy and again, I'm giving my money to someone local.
I don't like to eat in malls, it's usually busy and so formal, don't like the vibe. If I'm in a group and everybody wants to eat in the mall I will then, but this happens very seldom.


When I was a teenager I used to go to the Mall in Lisbon to get all different clothes, but as soon as malls came to the South I used to make a big shopping for Summer clothes and other for Winter clothes. Between I'd buy some stuff but I never considered myself someone very consumerist.

In the meanwhile I discovered Flea Markets and again, I started thinking why should I buy a top for 5€ when I can get it for 0.50 cents? I buy second hand clothes for a long time because I spend less money, I'm recycling and giving my money to someone local. You just have to be sure all pieces are in good condition with no holes and colors fading and figure if they really fit you.

I also buy second hand shoes (worn few times and looking like new), the only thing I don't buy used are socks and underwear. These I buy in local shops. Actually all the stuff I need with some urgency I'll buy in local shops and always look for tag, if it's made in Portugal or in the country I'm traveling in the moment I will buy in the moment. If it's from China I try to find somewhere else. But you know how hard is to find not Chinese manufactured stuff nowadays.

Again, no malls for me. It's possible that I buy one or two dresses in the mall per year. I will shop in the mall if I can only find a certain product or shop there. For example, there's a bra design I love to wear that only can find in Oysho and there's a Organic Shop in the mall with coconut oil and tofu sausages I can only find there. I found clothes in the malls pricey and low quality, usually a shirt is good for one year or less :/

Another thing I appreciate handmade stuff. I'm always in the hunt for vintage handmade dresses or skirts. Also for wool coats. Someone put all the energy to make this special piece and also it's unique, even if you try to make same same it will be different.

No, this blog didn't turn out a fashion blog :) This is an example of my daily clothing: where they came from and how much cost. I swear I'm not trying to show off my International Wardrobe :D

Hat - Bolivia (4€) * Cardigan - Vintage from grandma * Top - Flea Market in Portugal (0.50 cents) * Skirt - Handmade from Guatemala (7€) * Sandals - Second Hand Shop in Portugal (3€) * Necklace - Macrame from Nicaragua (10€) * Bracelets - Mexico, India and Morocco * Rings - Nepal (3€) and Bolivia (7€) 


This is another thing I buy a lot. Books can be expensive but in the end you are paying for art, so that's fair. I usually bring books I read already and/or don't want to keep to Flea markets and try to trade for books I'm interested in. If not possible, I will buy them from 0.50€ to 5€ in Flea Markets, Thrift stores or Second hand stores. The only books I buy new are from travelers and inspiring Do It Yourself books. Those are very hard to find second hand. Also I'm happy to contribute with my travel fellows - I always love their stories and the money goes to more travels, I completely understand :)


For electronics I'm divided: half of my stuff is new and half is used. For the last 2 years I've been working in California and electronics in USA are much cheaper then anywhere else. Buying second hand you never know if it's in really good shape, you can make all the questions and ask for pictures you want but... especially if you buy online. Also, we are talking about 200€ stuff, you don't want to lose your money. I prefer to buy second hand from someone I know and trust or in websites like amazon or ebay with reviews and comments about the seller. If the price is not really different from new I'll get it new with warranty. In the other hand, if you buy new you are consuming more, when you can reuse - better for our planet = better for us.

For a long time I don't buy any products that are tested in animals. Right now I'm in the transition of changing all my products to natural and organic ones, hopefully by the end of this year I don't use anymore toxic products full of chemicals in my skin. I'm learning how to make natural soup, tooth paste and deodorant. As soon as I find the right recipe for me I'll share with you :) If you have one that works for you please do share in the comments, thanks!

Before I leave for a Flea Market I always make a list of things I need. In the past happened that I bought a bunch of stuff just because it was cheap but ended up not using it. Now, I prefer to focus in what I really need and be a minimalist (equals simple life equals happiness)

Now your turn: What are your shopping habits? Do you recommend any organic products online? Any handmade shops?

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