#ThursdayThoughts: A Discourse on Consumerism

Shopping is fun, it’s so much fun. One of my favorite pastimes is to go to the mall on the weekends and window shop. I’m too impatient to try things on, so I’ll look at everything in person and mull on it for a few weeks and, if the want is still there, purchase it online. That way I can look forward to the package arriving, my very own mini Christmas that takes place every few weeks. My bank account is my own, so no one can see the charges I’m putting on it, and I usually get home before my boyfriend does so I have time to unpack my gifts and throw out the evidence. It’s all a fun game to me, or it was.

The growing “trend” of sustainability has shone a spotlight on the massive waste online shopping causes to our environment. Amazon employees are constantly on strike and we ignore them, because two day shipping means an even faster Christmas turnaround. Do I need this cute phone case or this notebook when I have two at home? No. Am I going to convince myself that I do and buy it anyways? Yes. We shop because we want, not because we need.

I sometimes search the #minimalist hashtag on Instagram and I look at these peoples’ houses and there’s no clutter. They don’t have ten blankets overflowing on the couch and in a nearby basket, they don’t have twenty candles when they realistically only light two at at time. They don’t have things on every surface, the clutter falling on top of one another in the name of decor. They’re not wasting money and resources buying things that they want but don’t need. But I am.

As I’ve been on this wellness journey, I’ve had to confront my obsession with buying things head-on and it’s been quite the uncomfortable process. Now, I’m so much more aware of the fact that I don’t need to be buying random things…but I am still begrudgingly buying them. I obsessively track my expenses and have to write down these purchases with shame and guilt, but it’s still been hard for me to stop. Why is that? Because it’s another small thing that brings me happiness. But here’s the thing…that happiness is extremely temporary.

Instant gratification is when you see something you want online, you think about it for a few minutes, click purchase (hold your thumb down for that Apple Pay), excitedly wait for it to come in the mail, tracking it, tracking it, tracking it, until it’s delivered and you unwrap it and put it down and walk away. Anyone else do this? I literally received a package today after days of anxiously tracking it, unwrapped it, and haven’t picked it back up since (the inspiration for this post). I convince myself (and others) that I need this product for reasons x, y, and z until I realize that maybe I didn’t really need it after all.

What’s the point of this ramble? Well, I want you guys to join me in being a little bit more conscious and a lot more realistic with yourself when you’re confronted with your next online shopping cart. Ask yourself, is this worth the cost plus tax plus shipping? Okay, but is it worth the packaging and labor? Alright, but how about the carbon emissions needed for its journey from the warehouse to you? If I’m asking myself these questions, the package I just received today was not worth it. But here I am, $18 broker but (hopefully) a little bit more aware.

A Quick Guide To Being A Conscious Consumer-

  • Purchase items in-store
  • Shop local
  • Group online purchases in one and check the “less packaging” option
  • Instead of choosing Delivery, choose Pick-Up In Store
  • Keep “want” purchases in your cart for at least 48 hours. If the want is still there, then you can buy it
  • Use the buddy system. Text your friend what you want to buy and three legitimate reasons why you need it. If they agree that your reasons are legit, congrats!
  • Donate items when you buy items
  • Finish your products before buying more. If you have ten candles at home, you do not need that cute one you just saw at Target
  • Have a wardrobe party. Invite friends over and ask them to bring the clothes they want to give away. They can go through your donate pile as you go through theirs and voila – new clothes for everyone!
  • Save up for quality, sustainable products made by ethical companies rather than cheap, poorly made items or “fast fashion” (IN THE WORKS: I’m going to delve deeper into my favorite ethical companies in another post soon!)

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