Blog Post #3
Oh, consumerism, you bad girl, you. I’m back to deliver you a whipping once again. Let’s preach about how absolutely terrible you are, and condemn you as the hole that two outcast traits – insecurity and greed – reside within in an attempt to hide from the rest of the world. Consumerism is terrible! Don't buy anything new from now on, it just feeds the fire! Rah! Rah! Rah!
And what’s the textbook definition for such a phenomenon? “The preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods” (Merriam Webster Dictionary) Already, it implies something negative. Consumerism in itself can be defined as the “act of purchasing in ever-greater amounts” ("Consumerism"). Now, people mistake consumerism with plain old consumption. The two are often linked, of course, but it’s not consumption that is solely to blame. It’s the want. It sounds harsh, but it is indeed want that drives consumer culture – right? So where do those wants come from?
“Fashion is the desire for imitation and differentiation” (Kawamura). What leads to those desires? What’s on the naughty list? Not who, what?
Oh, advertisements. Oh, societal pressures. You two deserve a healthy portion of coal, for you two are the ones that inspire feelings of greed and insecurity.
Hello, I’m Jing, and I am greedy and insecure. The two form the primordial soup that can contribute to consumerism, and has indeed in the past. But I have an antidote, and that is selfishness. I’m prude. I absolutely despise spending – I always have a little thought in the back of my head that I could always spend the money elsewhere, on something infinitely more useful than those adorable fuzzy toilet seats and Pretty Ponies at Wal-Mart that could have been realistically made under suicide-inducing factory conditions (Holstein).
It’s not greed and insecurity themselves that does the damage, it’s the way that we go about attempting to satisfy (how about suppress?) them. Personally, I already have a trait trained into me by no-nonsense parents – penny-pinching. Stretch creativity. Make your own things. Find other things to interest oneself, to distract from the amazing deals. Guilt over from all the information that was gleaned from a certain sustainable-practices fashion class at UC Davis. Awareness can be a pain, because now one’s conscience was slapped wide awake, but at least we now know ways in which we can contribute to society, reduce harmful waste, and rid ourselves of mindless spending.
Consumption itself, in essence, is very much different from consumerism. And yes, while tendencies of greed and insecurity can indeed be the start of the downward spiral to a wasteful society, they can indeed be sated – or stunted – by means that do not involve buying more and more without considering the consequences. Spending is OK - but misinformed spending is really what does the most damage.
Be Green Challenge Update:
Those bills in my wallet have not been touched once ever since this challenge started. I’m contributing to currency drain. Success.
I am considering my Christmas routine again – sewing stuffed ear hats that I have done every Christmas for the past three years. The problem with that is that I am currently struggling with a severe fabric shortage, which I will attempt to resolve by buying the largest, thickest, cheapest, (hopefully) acceptably clean items of clothing and pillows (the pillow fluff) from Oakland’s Salvation Army next Saturday. It’ll feel strange to buy them – with all the times that we’ve spent together, I’ve grown rather attached to my crinkly green Lincolns and it’s going to be hard to manage our tearful goodbyes. Now, buying clothing to cut up as hat fabric is fairly open-ended, for I will never know what I’ll ultimately end up using, unlike when I just pop over to Joanne’s like I usually did before. I’m thinking I will probably end up making fake leather hats, or thin little droopy hats, depending on how my secondhand haul goes. I hope I get lucky!
Till next time,
- Jing Mai
"Consumerism". Wikipedia. 18 November 2012. Web.
Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman, Shahid, Ito. “Santa’s Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, It’s Hard to Know Who Made Your Gift- and Under What Conditions.” Reader.
Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashionology: An Introduction To Fashion Studies. Oxford: Berg, 2006. 18. Print.