Liz S (ixwin) wrote,
Liz S

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Consumerism versus NiceNewStuffism

I have for a long time had an instinctive wariness of rants against consumerism. I mean, yes, we (affluent westerners) are using huge quantities of natural resources, often quite wastefully, and, yes, material possessions can't buy you happiness. But material possessions can nonetheless make your life better. Books, gorgeous clothes, art materials, garden plants... having those things (and the ability to get hold of new ones when I want) gives me great pleasure

But I've realised that, actually, it is not consuming which I take pleasure in, it is having things I want and haven't had before. In other words it is a desire which can often be equally satisfied by second-hand objects, which have attached to them the additional pleasures of thrift I discussed in a recent entry, and which prompted this train of thought in the first place.

In addition, it is probably easier now than ever before to get what you want second-hand. Amazon, for a start, allows you to find and buy a second hand copy of a book almost as easily as, and usually more cheaply than, a new one. And e-bay, which I have yet to use, is of course the ultimate trading post.

So anyway, my plan is to increase the percentage of things I buy which aren't new. Obviously, there's a limit as to how far one can go - some things (like food or paints) are by their nature consumable, and sometimes something new may just be so lovely I want it anyway, and for electrical and consumer goods (like washing machines) I think I'll prefer the safety and reliability of buying new. Also I am a fairly conventional dresser at work, and that may mean I choose to buy stuff off the peg to blend in, which may be harder to find second hand than more quirky stuff for the weekends (the conforming is something I'm not 100% happy with, but it's also something I don't want to force - I figure it'll change more satisfactorily if I leave it to go at its own pace). But as far as I can see, even if I only increase by a small percentage, that will still have a positive impact with no visible downside.

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