This problem isn't quite so nilly-willy in that I buy whatever I see. I suck at Frenchy (thrift store) shopping, I don't buy something just because it's on sale and I have a terrible time actually buying shoes or purses. In fact, I only own two purses (both Canadian and handmade). Nope, I'm definitely WAY beyond that fluff-head from the Shopaholic movie, I only own one credit card, the limit would only buy a K-car (IF that) and I have zero shopping debt... lots of student loan debt though. (I couldn't even make it past the 20th page of that book, thank goodness the movie was more entertaining with beer and a slight buzz). (my Tree of Life painting that I painted last summer... with gross non-eco paint).
However, I'd be lying if I said that this whole non-purchase, keep what you have 'till it rusts off, eco strategy was easy for me. I adore sparkly things and buying new clothes. When I'm down my first urge is to go buy something pretty. The M.A.C. store, specifically all those colourful eyeshadows, makes me so happy that it even overpowers Crazy Shouting Eco-Anal voice. I KNOW. To make matters worse, as the environment is so important on an intrinsically moral and political standpoint, justifying paying more for local, handmade, made from eco-friendly materials, organic, sustainably harvested, "no goliath beetles harmed in the making" is easy.
So much so that my wedding dress (down payment PAID two Fridays ago by moi!) cost three times what my budget allowed. No regrets, and I will re-evaluate and be fine, and it's BEAUTIFUL (hand made in Canada without synthetic fabrics!).... but a year ago I would have told you it was crazy to spend THAT MUCH on a dress for one day. Until I researched the ridiculous, polluting, slave labour intensive industry which calls itself "The Perfect Dress". As weird and crazy as it sounds, Ms. Eco-Anal Voice shouted things like "babies made that dress!!", "it only cost that much because they pay their workers shitty wages to work ALL DAY", "you are wearing a black sludge spewing dress". Ok- so seriously, maybe my problem is that voice and not the shopping- but the result was my easily justifying buying the dress. I know there are other options, which I looked into, like buying a second hand dress, buying a dress on Etsy... But I didn't LIKE any of those dresses.
And to be honest, I wanted mine to be... new and special just pour moi. Oh that sentence is shameful. That, my readers, is where the root of this "dress" conundrum lies: I am a consumer, brainwashed into thinking I NEED pretty new things.
As a former psychology grad, a sensitive Type A (lower rung though! I don't label all my stuff!) and stress-induced IBS gal, yoga has been essential in keeping my sanity and health. I am a firm believer, though, that simply doing damage control when it comes to "managing" stress isn't enough. Our culture is an overworked, stressed out, go go go, culture. It irks me to no end when I read about how to "manage" stress or ways to "help stress". A good example: working overtime, saying yes to all demands at my work stresses me out. As a result, my IBS comes out to say "bonjour!". Doing restorative yoga and changing my diet will help.... but it won't fix it. The root of the problem is my work. Until I go home on time, say "no" to preparing tons of home programming, let go of my need to do all projects myself and delegate, I will always be managing and never living. I need to "be" not "become". Non-attachment, an essential part of yoga, is beaming it's zen-light this way.
The same goes for consumerism; until we let go this need to have more, achieve more, go more we will never be content. Buying more things, regardless if they are "green" or not does not help support a world that can no longer take another "birth" of stuff in this world. My green product that I buy will still contribute to the neverending pile of material stuff. No matter how many times I re-use it, re-purpose it, recycle it, unless it biodegrades (and we know how sketchy THAT term is!) eventually when I am 90 years old and pass unto the next Circle, it will beautiful add to the mountains that we call "trash".
Believe me, I have been making small mini eco-yogini steps in this area, despite the "dress blurp". We have so far resisted the pressure to buy a cell phone, no matter how much well-meaning friends, family members and co-workers inform us of some "consumerist culture" reasoning. We also stored away our TV and do not have cable and to Andrew's chagrin, as a result don't play the PS2 (katamari is SO MUCH FUN). I haven't bought the same amount of "summer clothes" this year and Andrew has still resisted buying a new mat, even though his continues to slowly flake away. I've stopped buying pump soap even though I KNOW for a fact that it encourages men to wash their hands in the bathroom (ok, the men I know). We only have one vehicle and I have not bought a new bicycle that fits me, since Andrew's old bike will do just fine (as long as I don't have to step down suddenly and damage some of my girl parts...).
This article is my way of officially stating that my goal is to buy less and I shake my fist at thee; Consumer Machinations of Western Society and my conscious part that I play. This is my first true step back- very dramatic, but then those sparkly handmade earrings are pretty darn alluring...
Andrew, my friends (bloggy and not) and my family complete me. I could not be happier in my life. Well maybe if I found an Anusara teacher around Halifax...
How have you tried to 'stick it to the consumer man'?