I read Thrifty Green and then I read No Impact Man and both books say that to truly help the environment you should buy less. Not just green, environmentally-friendly products, but less stuff altogether. Well this is hard for me... I think almost any shopping is fun. I do it a lot for just about anything from groceries to clothes to baby products to books to kitchen gadgets to shoes to... as you see it goes on and on. But after a recent spending spree, I feel the need to cut back. The crazy thing is that I am not buying a Marc Jacobs handbag or Prada shoes. No, I am buying toys for my toddler, home improvement supplies, and some books... but the little things add up quickly. Toss in a few lunches out and there I am in debt. I want to do better but the organic tea calls to me and so does the cute kid's book that in the moment I think my daughter will love (actually, she will look at it once if I am lucky).
In the last few years I have tried things such as budgeting, tracking my spending, and shopping hiatuses. These work... temporarily. Controlling your spending was not a habit I was taught as a child and I will try to teach me daughter because it has been a hard thing to try to learn as an adult. Don't judge me too much when I tell you that it was only as an adult that I learned that people paid attention to what things cost at the grocery store. As the only child of middle class parents and a picky eater, I think my mom must have thought that if I would eat it and it appeared healthy then we should buy it. So I was floored when an ex-boyfriend asked me what something cost at the grocery store. How should I know... that wasn't a criteria I used in grocery shopping. In other things yes, but food, no. This is my winding ramble about how I am just not that good with money. Thanks to my thrifty husband, I am a bit better. I know I have a problem.
So with my recent shopping bill on my conscious I decided to try again for the shopping hiatus. A cold turkey effort. These are helpful in that I think about purchases and if I want something during this time, I write it down to think about after the hiatus is over. It is suppose to prevent impulse buying that generally leads to things that go to Good Will anyway. And I was pretty disturbed to watch The Story of Stuff http://www.storyofstuff.org/ where they talk about how much of the things we buy just get thrown out to clog our landfills. In the past I have done a week or one time two weeks, but this time it's a month. This means groceries, necessary supplies, but no clothes, toys, gadgets, shoes, cute purses, etc. It started 6/8. So far I am doing okay. I bought a $15 skirt on sale at Target. I blame my husband for this because being the very nice man that he is, when I told him I was on a shopping hiatus, he said "It's the effort that's important." And then I was in the store and I thought about not buying the skirt and then thought "It won't be there in a month. And it's the effort that counts." As you can see I have a ways to go. But I remind myself that each day is a new chance to start over. Hopefully, it will get easier as the month goes on.
And I think too that it matters that we try. Less stuff, less materialism, less demand on earth's resources are all good things. As a nation, we are in rut where we buy, buy, buy- we do it to socialize, we do it for fun, we do it to destress, we do it to feel better after a bad day. But when I think about this, it is a bit insane. There are other things to do. And I feel better when I use shopping time to exercise, or read, or be outdoors. Unfortunately, with conditioning and social pressure, this is a difficult habit to break. And as my husband, a marketing professor, told me, Target is designed to make me want to buy things. Like they studied 30+ year old women with kids and said this is the kind of store they would like and these are things they would like to buy and this is how we set it up to get them to buy what we are selling. Crazy! It's a giant trap. We average women are like flies to the tasty-smelling, deadly flytrap.
Wish me luck! Today is a new day to try. And maybe I can save the earth a little and save some money (a little).