Many things that are wrong with the world right now can be traced back to our consumerism-single-use-throw-away culture. Cheap overproduction drains our resources, destroys forests and other habitats, exploits people, poisons our waters and the ground and covers us in items that are shitty quality, thus immediately broken and dumped. We got air pollution and animals choking and dying on all our crap. Check out this video to understand how far reaching the effects of our behaviour go.
Two years ago I spent a couple of months in the bush in Zambia. In the morning I would sit in front of my tent and watch antelopes graze at a safe distance, and baboons trying to steal my breakfast. It was one of the happiest times of my life. The only place to buy something was a bar at a nearby game lodge, and a village market about an hour’s drive away.
There came a time where I dearly needed a new toothbrush and I had to beg people running errands for the lodge to take my order. But that was about it. My boss was in and out of camp and when he came back from town he would bring the ladies in the camp a slab of chocolate “just in case someone has their period and is angry”. I realized that if you are not having all these things you think you would miss for a while, you really don’t miss them. I handed my chocolate out for desert after dinner and my boss ended up eating most of the “period-chocolate” himself.
When I returned home, I had a layover somewhere on the Arabian peninsula. I remember sitting and waiting for my connection, looking up at these gigantic posters of sickly models wearing ludicrous luxury items and feeling so distant from that world. It doesn’t matter. You can look as sickly and rich as you want. The most tasteful people I know buy 80% of their fashion and interior design second hand, and make it cool. What’s important, is that you as a person are awesome, and you will meet awesome people. The rest is just a fancy show that is burying us in garbage.
Ever since I’ve been back from Zambia, I don’t enjoy shopping. I buy things I need and things I’m convinced will make my loved ones happy. But bumbling around just looking at things wears me out. I can honestly say, I am happy, I have more money left for things I actually want and my life is not cluttered with stuff.
I challenge you to spend this January without shopping. This of course doesn’t include buying food and things you actually need. I am talking about being bored and entertaining yourself with going to the shops for a look around.
When you’re feeling shoppy
- Call a friend and meet them for coffee
- Read the book that has been lying next to your bedside for the last month.
- Play a game, alone or with people.
- Take a walk and scout out a good place for guerilla gardening.
- Go guerilla gardening.
- Hang out with kids and make stuff out of sticks and stones.
- Take a nap.
- Organize a party to celebrate life, using only things you have in the house. Shock yourself with your creativity.
- Make an inventory of things you don’t use. Organize a swapping day with friends, garage sale or donate.
- Act out that crazy idea you’ve been dreaming about but put off as too crazy.
*Title image: pexels.com, photographer: Bruce Mars (edited)