Thoughts on Consumerism & Society

When we were in Toronto, my dad called the mall the “church of consumerism”. I’ve been doing quite a bit of shopping recently, and it’s got me thinking about what I need versus what I want in the moment at the store. Our society pretty much revolves around buying things we don’t actually need, so I’m trying to become more aware of that and do things like skip all those buy one get one half price deals. They’re not really deals unless you originally wanted two things. If you didn’t, you’re spending extra money on something you don’t need (which is also something my dad pointed out). I don’t need two of everything, and in a tiny house, I won’t have the space!

I’ve been reading about wardrobe essentials and I’ve decided that I need to stop aimlessly shopping for “something pretty” and start choosing and buying clothes that fill a need. I am planning to get rid of some stuff but also to buy a few things so that my wardrobe is versatile, simple, and not overflowing. I won’t need to keep buying clothes if I have all the clothes I need, and I usually just wear the same few favourites all the time anyway, so why take up space with things I don’t wear?

When I think of what I’ll put in my future tiny house, I also imagine where everything is going to go. People have so much space and so much stuff, and then so little of it gets used. I don’t want my house to be like that. Everything will have a purpose and a place, especially since I’ve read that tiny houses get cluttered easily. I plan on carefully choosing plates, towels, pillows, etc. that I love and only buying the amount that I need – my family had a big linen closet full of untouched towels and bedclothes because we use our favourites, wash them, and then use them again. If I love what I own and I have enough to last until the next wash, I won’t need to buy any new things until something is broken or worn out. That makes sense, right? It’s too bad society insists that we need new things all the time.

My resolution is to stop impulse buying and ONLY buy things that I really need. This will require unlearning what I’ve been taught – to buy buy buy – and also being constantly aware of the ads and deals that are designed to make me buy more. It’s going to be a challenge, but I don’t mind because I’m thinking of all the money I’ll save! Do you know how many clothes I’ve bought because I thought they were cute in the store and then never worn because I didn’t need them and didn’t even like them that much? WAY TOO MANY. One good thing is that we don’t have cable in our house, so I’m not constantly seeing ads.

I just don’t want of bunch of crap weighing me down. I want to save my money for experiences.

I remember seeing a video about natives in social studies class years ago and it’s stuck with me. I always compare how I imagine they lived to how we live now. I really think they had it right. Nomadic, leaving the land unharmed, using local materials (not that they had a choice), respect for all living things, socializing as a pastime (rather than spending time alone looking at a screen, although again, not that they had that choice), and not having a lot of stuff! They had what they needed plus a couple of pretty things. I don’t expect everyone to live like backpackers, but certainly people can benefit from donating some clothes they don’t wear or cleaning out an overflowing storage closet.

My advice is to re-evaluate what you own, what you need, and how you shop.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. John Labovitz
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 09:57:27

    My friend Lina has written some good stuff about buying stuff when living tiny. For example:


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"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan." - Eleanor Roosevelt

"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare that they are difficult." - Seneca

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris
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