Reflecting on Consumerism and Our Materialistic Society

This post comes at a very ironic time. 

If you look, the post previous to this one is talking about all the beauty and makeup items that I purchased at Whole Foods during their big sale. This was a fairly easy post to write, and I had it all written up within a day. However, after I published it I struggled to find something that I could publish after. Publishing a post about buying things during a sale made me feel like I should follow up with more hauls or more reviews about the products that I purchased. 

In the quest for inspiration for my next post, I had been watching some YouTube videos based on what was recommended to me and I came across a video about consumerism. I'm no stranger to the concepts of minimalism and the Marie Kondo crazy of 'tidying up', and I agree with the movements that proclaim you should reduce the items you have. I admit I go through obsessive phases of cleaning where I minimalize my room as much as possible, but I always get caught up with items that are sentimental. 

I fear I will need these things later so I continue to hang onto them. The problem with this is that, when I hang onto these items, I bury them away in a place where I cannot access them so when the time comes where I may actually need to use them I instead go out and buy more. 

When you buy more you never just buy what you stepped into the store to get. I'm sure a lot of people can relate to this experience: You go into a grocery store or a clothing store looking for one thing and walk out with five different things. At that moment it feels awesome to get a bunch of new things to bring home but once you actually add these things to your collection of stuff, the novelty of buying and spending money wears off. We accumulate more items we think we "have to have" to scratch the consumerist itch, and yet we are never satisfied and plan to buy more the next day. 

I was caught in this cycle. Back at the end of 2018, I spent about $400 on what I called a "Professional Wardrobe" from Zara because I thought I needed more clothes. I looked up what other young professionals were wearing, made a list of clothes I needed to have to get "the look" and headed out. I ended up returning about $100 worth of those items because I didn't really like them and as I sit here today I have two $40 pairs of shoes that are staring at me from across the room, sitting in my donation bin. I don't wear them and I honestly don't like them, but at the time I really felt like I needed them. 

Buying these items may have quenched my thirst for new things at the time, but it didn't stop me from wanting more and more. As someone who loves internet shopping, it gets to a point where you're sitting there after browsing page after page of results and think: "What is the point of this?. 

Sometimes a bigger question arises: "Who am I doing this for?" 

I have an unpublished post about minimalism that I wrote 6 months ago sitting in my blog drafts. I went into an in-depth analysis of who minimalism caters to in society and did some commentary about how trendy being minimalist has become. I believe those who practice minimalism have the privilege to do so, as they have all their basic necessities, and that it can be used as a tool to combat consumerism. 

I'm blessed to have things such as food, shelter, education and a small amount of savings. I'm blessed to be healthy and happy. These are things that cannot be obtained by simply having more stuff. Getting a new shirt will only make me happy temporarily. 

I'm struggling to get through all the beauty and makeup products I purchased from Whole Foods because there's just too much. At the time, when everyone was waiting on line to buy it, I convinced myself that I needed it, but in reality, I now have so much excess that I find myself going out of my way to actively use these products just to use them up! 

These two beauty bags sit on my desk, a constant reminder of the valuable lesson I've learned regarding our obsession with buying more and more and it's given me some ideas about how I want to treat the things I acquire going forward. 

So if you've made it this far in the post, here are some small things you can do to avoid overshopping:

  • Make a detailed list of what you need before you go into the store. If you need a new pair of jeans because your old ones are falling apart at the seams, just buy jeans. 
  • Have a budget. Tell yourself you will only spend $X amount for X item. 
  • Get things secondhand. Scour the internet for things you can use that have been gently used previously, or stuff you can upcycle!

I know this subject is hotly debated and this post may come off as a rant of sorts but I definitely wanted to share my feelings about this especially since I'm just beginning to gain so much knowledge. As always, thanks for reading :)