I recently finished reading Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine. It is a journal/editorial piece about how Ms. Levine stopped shopping during 2004, buying only the necessities (i.e. basic food, personal care items, etc.). She even gave up her book buying habit, something that I find nearly impossible to do. In between discussions of how she and her partner find new forms of entertainment and learn to make due with less, Ms. Levine also reflects on America’s consumer culture.
Although Canadians aren’t been told by their government to shop as part of the “war of terrorism”, we do have a very strong consumer culture as well. Malls are getting bigger, and shopping seems to be everyone’s favourite hobby. Speaking as someone who spent many years working in retail, it seems to me that people are almost more interested in the act of spending money then they are in the times they actually buy.
If I am going to be totally honest, I guess I’m a little guilty of that too. It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that something is better because it costs more. (I bought a $100 pair of heels last week, which I am taking back because that is just too much money for a pair of shoes.) And it is satisfying to know that you can buy something if you really want to have it, or think you want to have it. But, I think, we need to (or rather, I need to) move away from seeing things as a measure of success and as comfort and security.
I’m not sure if I am ready to try my own year without shopping, but maybe a year with less shopping would be a good start.