Friday, February 25, 2011

The "Un"Consumer

I've been trying really really hard not to shop in big box stores this year. I think I've done a pretty good job mostly because I don't NEEEED anything (except yarn). Until this week....there was an unfortunate accident with the faucet and my french besides the more pressing need of not having any coffee...Yikes! I knew I was going to have to break down and find a new one. So I went down my preferred list of ways to get stuff. First I posted a request on Freecycle! No response. Then I checked most of the nearby thrift stores. No luck. I tried outbid. I was kinda glad about that one though, it wasn't quite what I wanted and I hated that the shipping cost more than the item.

I started to think I was going to have to go to Target or Bed Bath and Beyond or some such place until I remembered this cute little kitchen shop, Beans About Cooking! Aha! It's a local business, and that is included in my list of meaningful places to shop. And so I picked up the glass replacement, and a pound of delicious gourmet coffee and felt good about my purchase.

Contrast this with last Sunday and the first birthday party of my friends' daughter. She received gift bag after gift bag of clothes and a couple toys all with the same characteristic big box look. She will probably only have a chance to wear each item a couple times before she outgrows them. It seems like such a waste of resources. Granted I was tickled pink with those kinds of gifts 20+ years ago when my kids were little but today I'm thinking less about "stuff." It's a shame that most people's first reaction when they get an invitation like that is "Let's go to Toys R Us!" I gave her a handknit dress wrapped simply in some tissue paper. It was the only gift that got passed around for all to admire.

And my last feel good purchase of the week was my toothbrush. Yes, I's just a toothbrush but all our purchases have consequences. There is a green way to get your teeth clean....Preserve toothbrushes. They are made from recycled yogurt cups and for $13/year, a uniquely designed toothbrush will appear in your mailbox along with a postage paid envelope to send back the old one so they can recycle it again. Plus you don't have to drive to the store.

Maybe if we all did a little research and thinking before our purchases we could make them more meaningful to us, the sellers and the environment.

How do you make shopping more meaningful?

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