As we embark on this new “Be Green Challenge” there are many fears of failure that race through my mind. While I would not say that I am addicted to purchasing things, I know that not buying something when I want it will definitely be challenging, since my personality is one that is fairly decisive about what I want when I see something that I like. I can already foresee this challenge will be especially difficult for me during Black Friday. When I shop usually, I make it challenge to myself to limit my purchases to items on sale or that are under $10. When I find something that is on sale that I particularly like, the feeling I get can be equated to the feeling of a treasure hunter finding something of great worth. Black Friday will be like a black hole of sales that I fear I will quickly get sucked into.
I am excited, however, about how this challenge will reshape my ideas about the consumer culture that resonates strongly in America. As I read I am already challenged regarding how we see the clothes we purchase as well as my view on consumerism. Reading “Speaking through Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and Culture through Textile Art” by Ava L. McCall, I discovered that the Hmong made creating textile art and clothing a part of a special family bond. “My mother taught me [how to sew]. At first she would start the beginning of the pattern for me. Then I would keep going (McCall 232).” When I reflect that fact onto the modern culture of America, I realize that our clothing no longer are tied with us on a personal level. While it may reflect our tastes it tells nothing more about us. For many of us, our clothing has become something that we can hide behind. Viewing consumerism in that way, it seems purely unnecessary to have the neophilia that we do. I then, however, turn to looking at consumerism from an economic perspective and question the need for our neophilia. According to the article, “Strong Rise in Consumer Spending in September” in the New York Times, how Americans spend tells of how confident they are in their economy. In addition to this, “Consumer spending is important because it drives nearly 70 percent of economic activity.”
As I receive different reasons for and against consumerism, I question whether or not consumerism is necessary, or if we are truly just brainwashed into thinking we continually need more.
Inside Source: Ava L. McCall. “Speaking through Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and Culture through Textile Arts.” Reader
Outside Source: "Strong Rise in Consumer Spending in September." New York Times [New York City] 30 Oct. 2012: B7. Print.