One of the reasons why I started this blog was because I decided I wanted to commit to a lifestyle change for the better – not just for myself, but also for the wellbeing of the environment and the people with whom I share this world. When I was about five years younger, I explored the realm of sustainably-created, environmentally-friendly goods, but I quickly forgot about this as I became more and more absorbed with the materialistic culture that society has cultivated over decades. It almost seemed ingrained in my brain – and everyone else’s mind in my generation – that we should spend money and accumulate goods. With the vast majority of companies opting to take their production of goods overseas, where they typically pay people lower wages, we as a society are becoming quite comfortable with our consumerism habits. It’s even easier now to experience instant gratification when you’ve got online vendors at your fingertips, with overnight or two-day shipping options available so that you can have what you want as quickly as possible. Or, you can make it even more instant by personally visiting one of the billions of brick-and-mortar stores that offer a selection of cheaply made goods that you can pick up and take home.
This summer, I moved into a studio. My boyfriend, who was helping me, commented, “You sure have a lot of stuff for one person!” It was absolutely true. Some things, I felt were necessary, such as the sofa, chairs, bed, and lamps, but I felt like the bulk of it was comprised of my closet. Over the years, I’d dig into my closet every now and then and sort out all the things I no longer wanted or things that I haven’t worn in a long time. I would make a huge pile, stuff them into one or two (or even three) large bags, and I would donate them. Then, more recently, I remarked to my boyfriend, after opening my walk-in closet door and revealing the unorganized mess inside, “I can’t seem to make a dent in this closet! Every time I donate something, I always seem to have the same amount of clothes!” He said something that was very obvious and made a lot of sense, “You do make a dent. But you also buy things to replace what you got rid of, so it seems like you didn’t.” I realized then that I needed to make strict changes with my consuming habits. Even though I believed I was being more of a conscious consumer because I was choosing to buy goods that were secondhand, vintage, produced by independent sellers, or produced by companies that touted fair trade/fair wages/sustainable/ethical/etc., I was still consuming and accumulating too much.
The bottom line: Consumerism is consumerism. Don’t buy too much. If you’re going to buy something, consider where it came from, who made it, and how long it’s going to last you.