To change our shopping habits is a powerful collective action we can all be part of.

Privilege

If we have full bellies, a roof over our head, clothes on our back and some free time then I believe we live in a state of privilege. When we also live in a country that is democratic (though some may dispute that now, here in the UK!) and for the most part safe and secure, then we have double the privilege.

However, if we go shopping as a hobby or pastime, are entertained by watching mindless TV, play online games and surf social media, eat crap food and buy “stuff” we don’t need, we are, in my humble opinion, squandering our privilege.

Toxic

We are all one on this planet, one community under the sun. We share more in common than we don’t. However those of us with the privilege often forget that. We do so little to help those without it. Worse still we actually add to the misery and suffering of others through clinging on to our life-styles.

So much of what we do is toxic.

Our privilege spreads it’s toxicity everywhere. It has oosed out to envelope all.  It’s not only the lethal chemicals ubiquitous in almost all we do that are so harmful, it’s the whole system. Under this regime people die, they are maimed, they live slave-like existences, eco-systems are destroyed, habitats eliminated and ancient life and knowledge are eradicated.

False Promises

To top it all, this privileged way of life, western civilisation is failing. For all it purports to offer it is in fact floundering. The promises of more have not brought health, wealth and happiness to all. Instead it now heralds in chronic illness, escalating mental health problems, deep loneliness,  division, hatred, fear and inequality.

It’s time to wake-up. It’s time to stop moaning on about how THEY should do something:

YOU should do something,

I should do something,

WE ALL should do something.

And do you know what one of those something’s is?

CHANGE OUR SHOPPING HABITS

Disquiet is soothed

The industrial growth system is designed to lure us in, playing on our inadequacies and failings it promises to mend and fix it all. Like magic whatever ails you will be miraculously “sorted” with one more shopping trip. Sometimes the urge to shop is great, it is so much easier to click, collect and deliver than to come up with an alternative. The inner disquiet is soothed and we are temporarily distracted in our ease.

We’ve been programmed, I’ve been programmed. I am in the habit now, shopping is something I do. It doesn’t have to be driven by want or need. There’s no predetermined thought. I can be found simply cruising around online or down the high street just incase I see something I like.

The crucial thing here is: something I like. For God’s sake the consumer culture is designed to make sure there will always be something I like. It’s dripping with stuff we will like, it has to be so we will keep feeding the whole destructive machine. We must remain good little shoppers. Yes sire!

Ethical

I’ve tried changing. I started pulling the ethical card. You know the one, it’s where I convince myself, feel pride even in the fact that most of my purchases were either second hand, organic, eco or green (whatever that means?). All so much better for the planet and people producing them, right?

Yea, right Mairi, dream on. It doesn’t matter what colour it is. If I am buying something I do not need then it doesn’t matter how  wrapped up in eco friendliness it is, it’s still unnecessary stuff. It still uses up resources, people and places in it’s production.

So, what is the answer?

Challenge the whole notion of need.

NEED is a curious word because I am sure it is possible to generate a million reasons why we need something, but in truth the majority of these will be wants and fancies. I need a pair of black leggings to go with my tunic, I need chocolate, I fancy that new game, I need …..fill in the blank……. I do not NEED any of these, I want them, I covet them and I convince myself they are necessary when they are not.

Real needs are the essentials, the stuff upon which life and limb totter. In reality these are few and far between and rarely encountered by those in privilege. So:

I wonder what would happen if I said no to all these internal need nudges?

What would it be like to make do with what I already have?

What would it be like to actually use stuff up?

 

The collective purse

Messy, that’s how it is. I ricochet around unable to make decisions.  What not to buy, what is essential, what is not, what matters, what does not. I get it wrong and sigh, I decide to live without and cheer. It’s hard. However I believe that it is vital that we privileged ones take ourselves and our shopping habits on.

Hell will freeze over before most corporations or Governments will change so if they won’t we have to. Together the power of our collective purse is mighty. Let’s use it for the power of good in the world.

If some future human, a descendant of yours came flying back through time and asked you why you are buying that, and in what way it will contribute to their future and the future of all of life on earth, what would you say?

Changing the way we shop can feel scary, change can be daunting, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it.  To take less and to share more of our privilege that is what we need to do. Changing our shopping habits can be a huge part of this.

“Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.”
Herbert Otto