Friday, May 1, 2009

Personalizing the Compact Challenge

I don’t understand what is so challenging about the compact challenge. Maybe I’m a person of the past where the term “starving college student” actually described the majority. When I hear about people going to the mall and spending hundreds of dollars on designer clothing, accessories and shoes, I am quite baffled. It must be that the newer generation of college kids have greater financial resources or are more willing to put their future on the line with multiple credit cards and absurd spending habits, slowly but surely entrenching themselves into debt. I think this drive to spend is also rooted in the desire to be accepted in an individual’s social environment. As discussed in Fashion-ology, fashion is a “means to reducing the inequality, suppressing caste, class and national barriers” (25). Therefore consuming fashion is the drive towards acceptance through the blurring of class boundaries.

I am not a victim of consumerism, at least not yet. Most of the clothes I own (and accumulated throughout my life) were gifts, hand-me-downs and second-hand clothing, with the exception of shoes. For shoes, I would buy a single pair and wear them 6-12 months straight, then get a new pair once the older ones were falling apart. That’s not unreasonable in my opinion, but I could have been greener. I played football for seven years, three in college. My everyday attire was almost always workout shorts and a football-T, both issued free of charge by the football program. Having to work out or condition twice a day made wearing anything else just a hassle to carry around and to change in and out of. Wearing this athletic apparel provided me not only with general comfort, but also solidified my identity as a student athlete among my peers.

So what is it that drives other people to consume so greatly? The following video is a great example of how our lives function within a consumer economy. Though I don’t share the same drive as the people portrayed in the video, the narrator made a good point about the consumption of food.

“The more we consume, the better our lives will be.” This quote from the video very nicely sums up what I feel to be the problem with people today. I feel that people are unhappy with who they are, where they are from, or what their financial situations may be. I am comfortable with all three of these factors and I love myself (huge ego) despite my lack of material wealth.

Today, faced with this compact challenge, I am attempting to minimize my spending even further. Though I do not spend much money on clothes, I do spend a great deal of money on food. For some people, their luxury, or “splurge,” items are things like jewelry, iPods, or cars. I prefer to eat good food! I am a frequent patron of places like Jamba Juice, Mizu’s, and Tapa’s (all located in Sacramento and all charging an average of $8 per visit to satisfy me). More recently in an effort to get into better shape for the coming summer, I have switched to a semi-vegetarian diet where I only keep vegetarian foods at home, but will occasionally break the rules to eat out with friends. I also buy organic produce and snacks from Trader Joes, but this is proving to be an even larger money sink and according to the video above, I should also consider how these organic foods get here in the first place. My version of the compact challenge will be to visit the local Davis and Sacramento farmers markets for produce, and lower my spending when it comes to eating out while still maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet. Wish me luck!

Part 2-4 of the consumerism documentary can be found here.

Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology. New York: Berg Publishers, 2005

Jesse Kailahi Blog Post #1

No comments: