Consumption

I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff.

My apartment is crammed full of stuff. I am constantly getting free shoes, free bags, and clothing at a discount because of my job. I love to shop and my job is located in a clothing store. You do the math. Drew says I have an import/export business. I bring things in and then get rid of them because my apartment can’t support the weight of so much extraneous fashion. I curse when I try to pull something out of my overjammed drawers, then get inspired every six months and put old stuff in bags to give away, throw away, or sell. My closet, however, remains jammed.

My gorgeous friend MARY mentioned in an email that she’s working to de-clutter her apt, and it occurred to me that I need to do the same yet again. Books, makeup, lotion, shoes, cds, pet supplies, hats I’ll never wear, dvds, magazines, mail that needs to be sorted. Every surface is full and it’s stress-making.

I read an article online in which a woman stated that one of the things this global/spiritual shift that’s happening is going to change is our practice of wanton consumption and subsequent overload and wasteful disposal. She says we’re going to have to start sharing, and that it isn’t going to be that much of a hardship because we have too much stuff already.

I also saw a man on TV who collects discarded old computers and cleans them up and puts them together and gives them to people who can’t afford them – the elderly, the poor, whomever. I thought that was pretty cool, it always looks so gross to see unloved monitors and hard drives on the street, waiting to be tossed into a pile somewhere where they will sit, not rotting.

These two things, and the state of my overstuffed cracker box apartment, have already made me think that it’s time to stop automatically collecting more items and to put more thought into the purchases I am making and freebies I’m grabbing. I desperately want to see some smooth surfaces.

So with these thoughts of overconsumption in mind, the fact that a very sweet-looking young man, trying to get through the holidays with a temp job, WAS TRAMPLED BY PEOPLE BURNING FOR A DISCOUNT AT WAL-MART, seems a great sign that we need to rethink our priorities. Is it really so imperative to get a discount TV that we would do such a thing? It’s unthinkable, and yet there it is. What did people imagine when they stepped on something soft? Did they notice or care? There are reports that there were fistfights and that one man was quoted as saying, “”Nobody is going to keep me from a 50 inch plasma TV for $800”. Really? Really?? I feel so sad for the dead man’s family and friends, how do you recover from such a senseless loss?

It is not lost on me that my salary comes from the buying and selling of unnecessary goods. I love fashion and I love that a person can create a persona for themselves out of garments. I love the high of a perfect new dress, of the designer shoes that make you feel glamourous. But the machine-like drive of goods in/goods out makes me question whether my energy could not be expended more productively elsewhere. I am not sure and I do love my job. I just find myself wishing we were more conscious, so for the most part I content myself with trying to deter the others from buying fur and insisting that everyone in the office recycle. I use a Britta for my water and I carry re-usable cloth bags everywhere now. It’s tiny, but it makes me feel better.

I don’t have any real answers or comments other than these on such a tragic and pointless event, except to say that I hope that as a nation we can begin to awaken to the fact that we don’t need all this stuff, and that we can begin moving into a new era where more thought goes into buying and selling. I know that I’m going to aim for it on a personal level.

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