I’m sitting in my car, typing this out on my smartphone while my kids sleep in their car seats. I don’t dare to try and move them lest they both wake and end my precious few moments “alone” with my thoughts.
What happened this week? Thanksgiving and the ushering in of the official beginning of the Christmas holidays, though by gosh the stores already had that started even before Halloween.
You know, the biggest change in me, perhaps, is the growing sense of disgust I have for our consumer culture. No, hear me out, I am still a consumer, but I have significantly slowed myself down. I think that it is perhaps in our best interest that we all do this.
For quite a few years now I have had an over arcing feeling of being duped as a customer. The feeling coming from the fact that more times than not, the product I am purchasing does not have the level of quality its price would seem to imply. This has always irked me and has only grown more intense. The rise of the name brand as value over true workmanship and quality is craziness. The fact that it is more about the label than the actual item quality is beyond absurd if you really think about it. It most certainly points to something not quite right where our heads and hearts are concerned. Clearly the trends in our consumer demands point to something on the level of desire and group acceptance (or envy?) rather than for a purpose or function.
The most recent trend in clothing, “fast fashion”, thanks to brands like H&M, is super troubling. It is all about the aquision of the newest trend, but in its purchase it becomes almost instantly obsolete because it is made so badly that one wash and it is more fit for the trash can than anything. Stores like Forever 21 are so massive and so piled high with merchandise, one can instantly see the excess and the impossibility of all of it ever being purchased or used. In an effort to push more and more product, fashion now has more “seasons” than there are actual seasons.
And to what end? Where is it all going? If these shoppers, like I, are shopping to fill a void, this is a symptom or evidence of an epidemic.
In my news feed I saw a horrifying video juxtaposing our consumption and advertising here in the West beside the actual workers slaving away in factories making this junk. It looked like some apocolyptic sci fi future inwhich the elite live in a bubble of complete ignorance and excess while the rest of the planet exists in a Thunderdome type post Armageddon…only it’s real and it’s happening now and we are the ones in that bubble.Factory workers making clothes they themselves will never wear can’t possibly know why it is that they are stuck produce disgusting amounts of clothes for an insatiable population overseas, and we in the West seem to be incapale of seeing ourselves for what we are: slaves to a consumer cycle that is encouraged through targeted advertising and brain washing leading us to consume beyond our means, and destroy our own world and by extension our lives through waste.
I am certainly not immune.Consumerism, obviously as evidenced by this whole year long challenge, is deeply ingrained. I need to begin to look into companies that look to the environment and their community rather than their coffers. Yes, their clothes will be more expensive, and this is where I struggle, but truly it is worth it. I want to know that what I am buying takes into consideration where and how the materials are gathered, who makes them and if they are treated fairly, as well as quality (for the price will thing last)? I have been saying for years that I just want a few choice, quality items in my wardrobe. It’s time to put my money where my mouth is. If we all took care about which companies we supported and didn’t go for the garbage fashion, there might actually be room on this planet for all of us. But as of now, the West goes on blindly consuming what the rest of the world churns out for us, and we are creating more than our fair share of the waste, diplacing others from the dream of a clean, bright future. Are we really so selfish? Does our vanity trump life?
So, given all that, I need to do more research, find other companies like Patagonia, and buy only from them.
This Thanksgiving I also realized how exceedingly lucky I was to be sitting in my own home, eating dinner with my family with a table over flowing with abundance. So much so that I felt like we needed to ask random strangers on the street to partake…which of course, scaredy-me couldn’t actually do. I realized though that as my kids get older, I want to take them out to do some community service, do something outward rather than all this inward selfism. I thought about how fulfilling it would be to truly be thinking of others instead of just me and my family and how worthwhile it would be to show my girls this possibility.
So those were my thoughts this week.
I also did some early Christmas shopping for the girls, because I had a chance to get away for a few hours. I didn’t have much time do I had to spend and spend quickly. It felt weird. It felt possibly excessive, but it was also fun.
What was really cool this week was that I managed to sell two of my hubby’s old bikes and he sold our old Toyota, so that was a nice chunk of cash coming in.
And halleluja…drum roll…we finally got reimbursed for our medical expenses! Gahhhh! A small (actually HUGE) holiday miracle. I am so grateful to my husband who dealt with all of that all these months.
(Ok, it’s been almost two days since I started this post and I have been having the hardest time getting back to it to edit. If I leave it any longer it just won’t happen. So forgive me if this post seems rough, but I just need to publish it and move on! This tired mama has no time for perfection. Sorry for any spelling errors etc!)