Not too long ago, shopping was my past time. I loved browsing. I loved getting things on sale. I loved taking a break and eating Panda Express Chinese food, grabbing a Starbucks Frappucino or an Auntie Ann pretzels. I loved nice shopping bags and would save them. I loved seeing boxes at my doorstep.
All of this changed the more I explored, experimented and read about minimalism, zero waste and healthy eating. It was an eye opener. So as of today, I no longer shop to pass the time. Don’t get me wrong, I still buy things, but I no longer spend my hours inside malls or stores browsing and hunting for things. Here are the reasons why.
I know too much about how things are made.
This is a doozy. I learned that we do NOT live in a circular economy and therefore most items that are made are designed to go to the trash. This is awful! From clothing to electronics to furniture to home decor, majority of these items are made from plastic which is petroleum based. Most of these items are also made in factories where working conditions are not humane. So while a $15 dollar shirt at the Gap seems inexpensive and too good to be true, I know that people are making it in hot factories for less than $1 per shirt. I know that if I buy something new, most products are meant to be obsolete and therefore will not last long. I know now that for some products there are no easy ways to recycle it after I am done with it.
I know exactly what I want and need.
It turns out, I don’t need much. Since I’ve been minimizing, I’ve significantly noticed how much stuff I still have and which stuff I actually use. I no longer buy just to buy. I have to assess if 1) I really need it and 2) if I can buy secondhand which means hitting the standard mall is out of the question for me. Just browsing for things now overwhelms me. There’s just too much to look at and it’s no fun going from one place to another.
I can’t eat what they sell at the food court.
Ahh, everything at the food court always smells so good. The problem is that after doing a lot of research and experimenting with paleo, whole30 and the ketogenic diet, I know that none of these foods are good for me. I know that Chinese food that is loaded with MSG will make me sleepy. I know that a lot of sugar will make me tired quickly and give me a headache. I know that most of these products are optimized for good taste, but do not really satiate you. This means that if I stay long inside a mall, my hangry sets in quickly and I am no fun to be around.
I notice plastic everywhere.
I’ve been made aware of the ubiquity of plastic and while I am not 100% plastic free, I strive to be. If I am out shopping, I notice a lot of plastic items. This includes polyester. If I see it, I automatically cringe. Full disclosure that my past life had a lot of plastic and I am slowly phasing them out if they can no longer be used. I also shake my head at how many pieces of plastic have such a high price tag. Why would people spend so much money on something so bad for you and the environment?
I know my money is best saved for an experience.
I’ve learned that for each dollar I spend on something that I don’t necessarily need is a dollar I can’t use to travel or have an experience. This has been the most important thing. Each purchase I now make is being quantified into either time wasted or a missed opportunity for an experience. Will buying 3 pairs of so-so quality t-shirts make me happy? Yes, temporarily, but it also reduces my travel fund by $30. It also means I now have to take care of three more items, even though I still have ten perfectly good t-shirts that need my attention and are perfectly fine to wear.
So if we are friends and you ask me to go shopping with you, I must decline for the sake of our friendship and my sanity. I, of course, would be happy to educate you along the way of what I’ve learned, but I will not push these upon you. I am in no way trying to make you feel guilty of your lifestyle, just to share that my eyes have been opened. In due time, I hope your eyes will be open too.
Originally published at www.thedosomethingproject.com on February 27, 2017.
The Do Something Project is dedicated to living the good life with a sustainable twist. We can eat well, explore far, do more while being kind to the environment. It all boils down to living simply.