I Am a Daily Consumerist, and You Certainly Are One, Too
It struck me while I was grocery shopping. There was a “buy one, get one for free” offer on my favorite brand of pasta. I reached up to the shelf to grab two boxes, happy about such a bargain. It was when I was about to put them in the cart that I realized: my cupboard was already filled with boxes of pasta, and I certainly did not need two more. In fact, I had not even come to the store to buy food in the first place! I put the boxes back and left, but this triggered something in me, something I am having trouble facing every day.
This thing, it is my consumerism. I have come to realize that I consume every day of my life (except maybe on Sundays, since everything is closed in France then). I consume when I am going out with friends, when I buy food, when I am bored, or worse: when I feel the need to go shopping.
Everyone is different when it comes to buying things. I personally buy a lot of clothes. Some of my friends never leave a shop without a bag of chips. Others do not seem to be buying things on a daily basis. But still, I am convinced that we all are daily consumerists. Why? Because we all very frequently buy articles we do not especially need. We want them. We desire them. We feel like we need them. A cup of coffee from the vending machine? A third tablet of chocolate, because it is mint-flavored, and it has been a long time since I had that flavor? A blue silk dress, because yes, I do have dresses, but none in silk, and especially not in blue silk?
At the end of the day, I feel like these expenses are no more than wasted money and resources. These things we consume are not here to fulfill a physiological need. They are bought so we can feel better, because we deserve it, or because we have been slightly depressed these days… And even though they can be small purchases, at the end of the month, what I call my “daily expenses” end up weighing a lot on my budget.
Companies have very well understood how desire influences consumers’ choices and have used it as one of their biggest tools. In my opinion, consumerism is the major component of capitalism, a system we all live in today. And while this article is not a statement against capitalism, I am starting to pay attention to this consumerist society, my society, and to realize that I have a big part to play in it. In fact, we all do.
I do not like the idea of me stopping to be a consumer. I enjoy shopping way too much, and the mochaccino from the campus’s vending machine helps me get the harshest essay done before the deadline. But I do know that I must stop consuming that much. Other ways of consumption exist. Buying second-hand clothes, thrifting in vintage shops, looking at where it was produced, by whom and in which conditions… even asking myself “Do I really need that?”
I will try to reduce the amount that I consume and look more into details when it comes to what I am buying. On the long term, my will is to change the way I consume every day. It is something that is easy to do at its own scale. I can do it. And you can do it too.