Conscious Buying

It's so easy to fall into the trap of continuous consumption. 

Today, I nearly lost my iPhone while out picking up Christmas decorations.  The phone fell out of my jacket pocket.  I immediately thought.  "Mmm...I'm carrying around my phone, money, ID in my pockets.  I could lose these. I need a clutch.  ASAP."

So I went into the nearest store and started to look at clutches.  I found a few inexpensive and very cheaply made clutches.  I picked them up, felt them, and then put them down.  Thank goodness.   I didn't want to buy one because the quality was poor, they were vinyl, and believed that they were manufactured in a process that goes against being sustainable.

I woke up.  I thought, you know, at home I know I have a clutch.  I just have to look for it.  I don't need to buy this.  The "Gotta Have It" hysteria was over.  I went on to find some ornaments, as I had planned.

The problem with shopping is that it is so bombarding.  In stores, often, you feel a sense of lack and you want to buy what you see.  You don't have something and you need to get it, now.  That's one of the main reasons why we so have so much in our homes that we don't use or need. However, when you brought the item, it seemed to fill an important need.

This is why we need to really slow down when we shop.  Of course, we are going to feel that we have to have it, but if you walk away from the item, engage in something else, and ask yourself, "Do I really need it?" you can, keep walking away and not buy it. 

When I walked away from the clutch, I achieved three things. I stopped bringing home clutter.  I stopped bringing home cheap stuff that doesn't fit my style.  And, I stopped wasting my money.  For my commitment to sustainable fashion, I didn't buy a product that was going to eventually get thrown out and go into a landfill and I didn't support designers who aren't sustainable. 

We have to stop and think before we buy.  Americans are going more into debt; currently the average household carries about $7,000 in credit card debt.  We're filling up our landfills.  Unfortunately, only one out of every ten items that we donate is resold.  Most go to landfills or to developing countries.  We're contributing to exploitative labor.  Overseas labor costs are less than one percent of a product's retail price.  There is a big problem with child labor, forced labor, and inadequate worker protection against job hazards like chemical exposure.  And, pollution is another major problem within the fashion industry with so many products, especially synthetics. 

If you would like more information on how to curtail your buying, The Center for the New American Dream offers several resources.

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