It was not long ago, that when we “needed” something or if we’re being really honest, “wanted” something, there was no superstore where we could get all our “needs” in one shot. More specifically, there was no Walmart, or Target. When you needed a dress, you would visit a local seamstress or tailor. When you needed a pair of shoes, you would stop in to your local cobbler. There is a good chance, that most people only think of a crumbley, delicious dessert when they hear the world cobbler.
The point I am getting at, people had skills and specialties and ran family businesses. Neighbors supported neighbors, and bartered skills and traded goods. And these were finely crafted goods made with love and passion, and precision.
Now, we have mass produced , sub par in regards to quality, products available to the masses at decent prices because people and machines are churning them out at rapid rates. Yes, it provides a pay check and it allows for millions of people to have shoes and shirts and pants and toys and gadgets and gizmos.
Here’s the thing. No one needs 10 pairs of shoes, 30 shirts, 10 dolls, piles of trinkets and chotchkys. What you can possibly argue you need is a few pairs of shoes, a few shirts, a couple precious items that bring you joy.
As a society, we have a very skewed perception of what we need. I hear people say I “need” black shoes to go with that one shirt I have. I “need” a belt to match those shoes. I “need” a watch that matches that belt. Do you see the error here? This is a vicious cycle which draws us into supporting the mass producers, who are leaving all the passionate and talented local crafters in the dust.
Walmart, has become a vicious mega beast. They are everywhere and they have “everything”.
I am not criticizing those who frequent Wal Mart for the convenience and affordability of what they provide. I get it and I was drawn to it for many many years. I will say, it has been several years that I have visited Wal Mart, besides my recent car battery debacle, and it feels really refreshing. It didn’t happen by choice so much, it just kind of… happened.
Here is the challenge, and it has two parts. The next time you find yourself with a list of things you need to purchase, first
CONSIDER WHAT YOU ACTUALLY NEED
Go through that list with a fine tooth comb and ask yourself “do I really need this?”Try and remove even one thing, whether it’s a candle or a beauty product or a pair of shoes. Conside what you already have it home and really consider if you can get by just fine whith what you already have, and save your money and put it somewhere that is going to benefit you and possibly someone else in a better way.
WHERE ELSE COULD YOU BUY THESE PRODUCTS
If you really want a candle because you enjoy the aromatherapy factor, there are hundreds of small business candle makers. Go on Etsy and type in candle, you will find so many lovely crafters who have created a high quality product, that they are so excited to get out into the world. There is such a high, a feeling of accomplishment and awe, when you hand make a product that you are proud of. If you have never made something by hand, you should really try and experience this feelings.
When you buy a product from a small business owner, there is a strong liklihood that someone behind the scenes is thrilled and grateful, to you as the consumer, for this purchase. You have contributed to their livelihood and because of this purchase you have brought them 20 dollars closer to their dream of sending their kid to college, or vacationing is Europe, or opening their store front, or… the possibilitiles are endless.
When you purchase anything from Wal Mart, do you know who benefits? Do you know who grows richer and more powerful? Corporate giants and business tycoons. They had nothing to do with the product produced and couldn’t care less about the low quality products you purchased or where they came from. All they care about is acquiring more wealth so they can buy oh I don’t know, another car, another boat, a bigger mansion. You get it.
To wrap this up, and bring it all home, be left with these thoughts.
Do not be hard on yourself for not buying everything local.
It is not cheap and quite honestly, while I talk a lot about shoes in this post, I have no idea where you could find a modern day cobbler. I am sure they exist, I think I have seen some on Etsy, but I know it’s not as simple as buying local jam at a local farmers market. As far as the shoes go, more so consider, just how many pairs of shoes do you actually need.
Challenge yourself to consider what you are buying
Raise your consciousness and spend some serious time considering where your money is going and what you are purchasing. I am very much guilty, of walking into Michaels to purchase yarn and leaving with so much more. Even more so, Target. But challenge yourself. The next time you are out shopping, consider everything you pick up and put in your basket, and ask yourself if it is really a need and if it is where you want to put your hard earned money.
Get to know your local crafters and explore your city
Once you have figured out what you need and also, the little things that you know and accept that you do want, do some research and see if these are things you can get locally or even online from an independent crafter. I very much encourage owning some things that bring you joy, even if you do not need them. I have a wooden Buddha that my sister brought me from Thailand that brings me very much joy, and does add value to my life. No one needs a Buddha statue, but I love it.
When you consume, don’t be consumed. Own your things, do not let them own you.