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Posts Tagged ‘consumerism’

Good Enough = Better

Listening to the radio in the car yet again, I heard some person saying something about the Qwerty keyboard and how it wasn’t as good as the Dvorak keyboard. That the Dvorak keyboard allowed a proficient typist to be 15% more efficient. That the Dvorak keyboard should replace the Qwerty keyboard because of it’s superior design. I was nodding my internal head in agreement until another person cut in saying that it would be outrageous to replace the Qwerty with the Dvorak, that the Qwerty had been invented first, that it was all over the world, and that replacing it would mean retraining X number of typists and reprinting X number of typing textbooks and of course, throwing out all of the existing keyboards. That the Qwerty keyboard may not be quite as good as the Dvorak keyboard, but that it is Good Enough.

Good Enough.

When that person said those words I thought yup, that’s true. It IS good enough, and good enough is good enough. I was glad to finally hear those words spoken aloud, because after I heard them, I realized that those are the words that I should have stitched onto a sampler and put on my wall.

Good enough may as well be my mantra.

I don’t strive for perfection.

I don’t need the newest clothes, the cleanest car, the most well-dressed kids or the latest gadgets and I don’t expect myself to have the cleanest house or the perfect lawn. I’m happy with my first generation ipod, my twenty dollar stereo, a dishwasher that only sort of makes the dishes clean and a 15 inch TV that has to be wheeled out of the closet on it’s squeaky IKEA stand. I have mismatched dishes, a very, very old couch, and a car that leaks water onto the passenger side floor mat after it rains.

When I hang pictures, I’m happy if they’re approximately level, when I plant seeds, I don’t care if they’re not in straight rows.

As long as appliances kind of work, I use them.

I don’t change the lightbulbs in fixtures until every single one of them is burnt out. We sit in dimmer and dimmer light, and I only change the bulbs when the final one pops and it’s pitch black.

When I buy jeans, I would rather wear them a little too long than going to the bother of having them hemmed. (Learn to sew? Echhh…too nitpicky for me).

I let my hair grow well out of any definable style and only get it cut when it looks truly awful, and even though I looooove having hair that swings, and I loooove having style, I don’t love it enough to make regular hair appointments.

I cook great dinners maybe once every two weeks, and the rest of the time we make do with either the usual or have toast.

I start projects and then tire of them before they’re finished.

I do sometimes look with envy at a perfectly trimmed hedge or at a person who wears accessories as a matter of course, but it’s with the same sort of envy that I have when I see a perfectly executed triple back somersault off the 7 Meter tower. I would love to be able to have those things or do those things or be that kind of person, but not enough to do anything about it. It’s a sit in my chair in idle wishful thinking kind of envy that quickly passes.

There’s a whole lot of effort that goes into taking something from good enough to perfect, and most of the time, I don’t think that whatever it is warrants that kind of effort.

I used to feel a titch bit uneasy about my attitude, but after hearing the keyboard man, it occurred to me that maybe I’ve had it right all along. If there were fewer people clamoring for the iphone, or trading their big screen TV’s in for bigger screen TV’s and if we all thought that last season’s bathing suit was good enough for this summer, there would be less waste, less production, and less energy usage.

Maybe we don’t need more.

Maybe what we have is good enough.

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Buy Nothing Christmas

I hadn’t written a post in a while, so my stats chart was showing a dwindle, but today there was a big spike, which confused me until I saw the search engine hits for Buy Nothing Christmas. I don’t know if there’s a little surge of interest because of the economic times, but I thought I’d re-post this one from last year, with it’s link to the Buy Nothing website.

poster_kitty-smI have a confession to make. It might be shocking to some of you, but here goes.

I boycott Christmas.

The gift purchasing part.

I still bake cookies, and sing along to carols, and eat candy canes, and go to parties. I  do give gifts, but they’re either homemade (think hot pepper jelly) or gifts of my time (who needs babysitting help?) I have no desire to offend anyone or hurt any feelings, so I have bent my own rules on occasion, buying something for someone whom I knew just would not understand my point of view, but mostly, I try to stand firm.

I don’t even buy gifts for my own children.

I take them to a locally owned bookstore, tell them that they can buy ANY book they want, and then we all sit together in the cafe for hot chocolate and whatever usually verboten goodies they’d like. See how I make my rules up as I go? I guess, technically, buying them a book is buying them something, isn’t it? I just don’t think of books in that way. There you go. Just goes to show that I have my own version of reality.

I made this boycotting decision 3 years ago, but I’d been on the verge for much longer. My own personal values just didn’t match my actions during the holiday buying frenzy, and I felt more and more uncomfortable trawling through the malls in desperation every year, searching for presents that I was sure were redundant. I actually started feeling queazy with the disconnect I was experiencing. I’m an athiest, I have no spiritual connection to the holiday (and even if I did, I still don’t get the significance of buying things as a way to celebrate a religion), and I’m a staunch anti-consumer the rest of the year, so I began to feel that I was being dishonest by participating. I hate buying because it’s the thing to do, and I don’t like recieving things that people felt obligated to purchase. I don’t like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day either.

Poster2-Unscramble

I remember one Christmas, when baby #3 was 11 months old, I took a look at all of the unused mountains of toys in our basement playroom, and had a flash of brilliance. I found one that had been particularly well buried, wrapped it in glittering paper, and put it under the tree for the baby. He was none the wiser, and nor were the slightly older two. I think that was the beginning of the end for me.

Anway, long story short,  my good friend S sent me a link to the Buy Nothing website. I guess I’m not quite the trail blazer that I thought I was. Click here to check out their list of alternatives for gift giving.

Thanks, S!

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I was in the grocery store yesterday, walking through frozen foods, and, as usual contemplated buying Pizza Pops, which I know several of the kids, particularly the boys, love. As usual, I almost bought them, and then didn’t. I thought about their orangey faux-tomato filling, and the saturated fats in the crust, and as much as I love my boys, and as much as I love to give them what they want, I didn’t put them in my cart. Same thing with the frozen waffles and Tater Tots.

I think it was mostly fatigue, and my negative frame of mind, but I began feeling irritated with society in general. I extended the Pizza Pops to a metaphor for our culture of immediate gratification, in which we are exhorted to buy, buy, buy. Why not? Why not eat fast food? It’s easy. The kids like it. Why not buy ready-made meals, snack crackers, hydrogenated vegetable oil laden cookies, and prepackaged crap? Everyone else is. It’s easy! The kids love it! Why bother cooking? Why bother baking? Just open up a package of cookie dough and throw it in the oven. Why shouldn’t we have what we want when we want it? We deserve it. If it’s easy, and easily obtainable, and we feel like it, why not?

Sometimes it feels like I’m swimming upstream. It’s all just there, and I have to endlessly explain to the kids why I don’t want them eating this that or the other. I have to consciously set up limits for the amount of candy and chocolate that enter this house unbidden. I limit video games, computer games, and have made the house a no Game Boy/Game Cube/ Wii zone. I endured 2 weeks of bedtime tears when oldest son was seven or so and desperately craved an X-Box. I saw how much TV that T in particular was prone to watching, and got rid of it. My kids don’t have MP3 players, or their own sound systems. They don’t get things just because. Just because they want them, or everyone else has them, or they suddenly have an intense craving for one. I am the pillar of conscientious consumption, and I hold the line. I explain about the effects of packaging in landfills, about green house gases, about the perils of too much stuff. About the advertising industry and it’s insidious agenda. About how we aren’t automatically entitled to what we want. I think, I force the kids to think, and I rail against the greedy, selfish, short-term thinking of our current materialistic culture.

Even writing this makes me feel like an ogre. A fun-sucking, over-thinking griper. Which makes me angry. I’m not the crazy one. The way we’re all being manipulated is crazy. I’m angry that taking a stance against over-consumption and asking questions about doing everything in the easiest way possible makes me the bad guy. I can not be the only person out there that looks around and says….hold it here people…and yet, it feels that way sometimes.

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Old News

How did Canadians spend 2 billion dollars last year? On Boxing Day sales. A quarter of the population spent their day off work…….shopping.

(CTV.ca and Visa Canada)

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