A Conscious Shopper Is/Is Not

>> Friday, March 27, 2009

Since we still haven't sold our house in Maryland, my family has lived for the past eight months with only half of our stuff. The other half is still in Maryland "staging" our house. Thinking of this fact today, I had two thoughts:

  1. Our house in Maryland looks really beautiful without all the clutter.
  2. Except for missing a few big furniture items, it hasn't been much of an adjustment to cut back to half as much stuff.
Don't get me wrong. I will be ecstatic when our house finally sells and we have all of our belongings in one place again. I miss having a home that actually looks like a home, instead of like we're in transition.

But doing without has made me realize how much of what I own was purchased to fill up space, to make an impression, or to fulfill an impulse rather than being chosen with careful thought.

I know I'm not alone in that. Afterall, recreational shopping is one of America's favorite pastimes. And in general, I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting nice things or wanting to look nice.

But often, we get so caught up in everyday living that we forget to pay attention to the things that matter. We live such fast-paced lives that we don't have time to choose carefully, and we end up with stuff we don't need, stuff we don't use, stuff we don't wear, stuff that doesn't last. And because we bought the wrong stuff in the first place, we end up buying more stuff and more stuff and more stuff.

This cycle of spend, spend, spend is not good for the planet or the pocketbook, but many people are afraid of what will happen if they step off the treadmill and try something new. They fear the hippy stereotype, and they fear criticism from their peers for being "different."

So I'm here right now to set the record straight...

Being a Conscious Shopper means:
  • you think before you buy
  • you are aware of the effects of your purchases on others and on the planet
  • you try to choose the best possible products to meet your needs
  • you live within your means
It does not mean you have to radically change your life (although you might do it by accident). It does not mean you have to make huge sacrifices (unless you want to). And it definitely does not mean you have to look ugly or drab (but you might end up caring a little less about how you look and a little bit more about the world around you).

Most importantly, a Conscious Shopper knows that shopping can never replace real living. So in the words of the New American Dream:

More fun, less stuff!


Maren Hansen March 28, 2009 at 9:18 PM  

Great post. Makes me think of the book Affluenza & one I'm about to pick up: "Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping".

Erin aka Conscious Shopper March 29, 2009 at 9:37 PM  

Maren - You must never get any sleep. How are you able to read so much!

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