We live in a consumer culture. We are accustomed to getting what we want when we want it. Is this right? Is this proper? Is this biblical? I don’t think so!
I’ve spent the last 2.5 years with not much spending money. I am used to not buying things, and when I come into some spending money, I don’t know what to do with it! I know that my desire to procure and consume is empty—that buying and consuming is not a satisfying process. When I consume and buy, I want to consume more! It’s a deep pit, my desire to procure, and feeding it only makes the pit deeper!
Now that I’ve been fasting (definitely not a self-imposed fast, though!) from shopping for these years, I’m learning more about the customers in my store. Some want to buy, buy, buy; some want to shop for new kitchen stuff because they just re-did their kitchen and now their old pots and pans look dingy; some bought cheap pots and pans, burned them or warped them, and want to invest in good quality replacements. So many people, with so many reasons to shop—but we are all consumers.
Now it’s popular to be green, to be recyclers. But why do we buy more stuff that’s ‘green?’ Why don’t we just buy less stuff? (Remember the Three R’s? Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle?) We’re not reducing, have you noticed? We’re encouraged to buy efficient lightbulbs, to turn down our thermostats, to combine errands to save gas, to buy products with less packaging, to buy local products—but not to simply buy less stuff!
There’s a little grocery store out here called Aldi—do you all have an Aldi where you live? It’s great! I love it! You have to bring your own bags, though, or buy theirs. So we (of course) bring our own bags because I don’t want to buy a bag. That’s silly.
I just got back from a quick little trip to Wal-Super-Store. I bought 7 things, and they gave me three bags. We have enough grocery bags at home already, so we’ve taken to throwing them away. I realized…that’s part of the consumerist culture! It’s convenient for the cashier to bag my new stuff and help me get out of the store quickly, but here I am using three bags I don’t need and will only throw away at home.
So how about an experiment for me? I’ll do at Wal-Super-Store the same way I do at Aldi. The cashier will put my new stuff right into my cart and I’ll bag it myself in my pre-used grocery bags before I leave the store. I’ll consume three fewer bags and let someone else consume them. It’s three fewer bags in a landfill, at least.