Monday, January 17, 2011

Pondering Postconsumerism

I experienced several pangs of consumer craving yesterday and was quick to sate them all. We drove up to Blue Back Square in West Hartford, a very aesthetically pleasing, thoughtfully structured outdoor mall. It’s bordered by a huge Whole Foods store. I often find myself thankful that Whole Foods is quite a distance from my home, because I could spend a lot of money there! Everything smells and looks so good, and you get to feel (pun intended), Wholesome when you shop there, because, hey, it’s all organic and socially conscious and healthy.

But before Whole Foods, we were lured into the larger-than-life Cheesecake Factory and a postprandial wander through Barnes and Noble, where I just had to buy a nonfiction writers’ workbook chock full of exercises that will make me a stellar wordsmith. (I’ve got to plug the book, Now Write Nonfiction; it really is put together well).

Nothing wrong, on the surface, with any of this. Each individual purchase was pretty modest. I got a couple of small plates and some wine at Cheesecake Factory and the book I bought is in lieu of a writing class that I can’t afford right now—I really do need some structured exercises. Little damage done at Whole Foods—a couple of chocolate truffles and a coffee for the road. But what bothered me was my need to rationalize all this because our finances are dipping low and we should have delayed some of this gratification. [HEY, that’s month 2 in the Year I Said No—credit card debt (stay tuned for our first credit counseling appointment).] Actually, we didn’t charge this experience, but the point is it leaves us with less to pay the credit card bill, which is already considerable.

A couple of years ago I responded to a call for essays on the theme of life satisfaction. Since then the “Get Satisfied” movement has widened into postconsumerism, an effort to help people get past addictive consumerism. On the TV front, I found a quote at that captures what I am striving for with my (mostly) TV-less month:

"Becoming a postconsumer means to me that I am going to attempt to be less wasteful in all aspects of my life. Just buying less is only the beginning, the challenge is to 'spend' my time more wisely. That will be the real savings to me and my family." -Karen Aubry

Next blog: how people with less time often spend more!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your brilliant blog today, Katherine! You ponder postconsumerism in a very delicious and insightful way.