Earlier this week, I was reading an article about Affluenza, the idea that we are a consumerist society and we buy what we want, when we want it, and that this way of living puts the way we live in danger. So, the example is given, if we are thirsty and out and about, we buy a bottle of water – drinking the water and throwing away the bottle, giving no thought to the natural resources that have gone into making that bottle (resources that are finite) or to the damage that bottle might be doing to the environment.
The article wasn’t saying that we shouldn’t buy things but it was making the case that, as a society, we are somewhat addicted to buying things for the sake of buying them. It was saying that if you buy something then love it, care for it, and use it until it needs replacing. Only this way will we change the way we live and the way we think. We will all end up better off financially and mentally because an addiction to buying things can be more than a bit stressful.
I’m paraphrasing a lot here and there is a book to go along with the article that I plan on buying and reading but, even with the article, it got me thinking about how much of this, even though I would say I’m a bit of a spendthrift if asked, applies to me. I don’t spend a lot of time shopping but my family do have a tendency to replace things more often than maybe we should – or certain things, mainly technology.
In other areas of my life, I’m pretty good at not spending. I am a big fan of re-using items (turning old bed sheets into a wigwam for my daughter’s birthday the other year for example) and hand-me-downs are a family tradition, with me now serving tea out of my nana’s Hornsea tea set (which also has pride of place in my kitchen and makes me smile every time I look at it because of the childhood memories it brings).
I used to be better though. I used to make vs. buy, knitting scarves, baking bread, and giving home presents like bath oils. Somewhere along the line, though, I have lost this habit. Now, first thing I do is go online and see what I can buy. In part, this blog was set up as a way for me to rediscover this love of making vs. buying and has definitely kick-started my home-baking again but I’d like to go beyond that, especially as I now have time.
Time is, I think, one of the biggest things for me when it comes to spending. Or it was. With working as much as I did and trying to be a perfect “soccer mom” as well, I didn’t have much time to think, let alone, worry about whether I was spending money on things I really needed and would use or whether this money was going on things I would be replacing no sooner had it being unboxed. Now, I don’t have that problem – or that excuse – and the article has made me feel guilty enough about my behaviour to want to change.
The timing seems pretty perfect too, with Christmas around the corner and my daughter’s letter to Santa just written. It’s a long list and some of it, possibly most of it, are things I know that she will enjoy for not much longer than it takes boxing day to roll around. Before I get onto Amazon, I will be thinking about what she really might want from that list – what will she likely play with and enjoy long term.
And for others, I’ll be thinking about what I can make over the next month or are there other places to buy things (charity shops for example). If I manage it, it will also make for some (hopefully) interesting blog posts so it’s a bit of a win, win there.
What about you – do you buy because you want something or because you need it? And do you hold onto things forever or replace them with the seasons?
Images courtesy of pixabay.