Let’s Talk Consumerism

For my second post I’d like to address consumerism and why this has been a major hurdle for my green and crunchy makeover because–let’s be honest–with my wages it’s probably gonna come up a lot.

Our country thrives on stuff. Everywhere we go, we’re inundated with messages to buy this and buy that, to get this and get that, to wear this or eat that but never touch that.

The other day, I walked into Harmon’s to buy bananas, a jar, and chamomile tea. I’m used to the little store in my parents’ hometown, which is pretty much an overpriced grocery store, but in the bigger city where I moved there was the grocery and So Much More. This So Much More took the form of a deli huddled next to an area stocked with every single kitchen item you could possibly imagine in every color you never imagined. There were green butcher knives and flowery aprons and wine bottles without wine and an electric French press (a French press is an alternative form of brewing coffee or–in my case–Crio by pouring hot water over the ground beans, letting it steep, and then pressing down on the beans with a sieve so the water comes through. It saves on filters and some electricity, so having an electric French press to me epitomizes laziness).

I was, sure enough, able to find jars. The first little jars I saw were fifteen dollars a pop. Ah, but these jars had a brand name on them, thus they were So Much Better. I was eventually able to find a simple jar with a hinged lid for seven dollars (which still nearly made me swallow my tongue).

Why did I need this jar? I have a goal in 2015 to collect good moments in a jar so I remember the good times, not just the bad. I wanted a sturdy jar because I have a tendency to knock things over and I was worried a mason jar would shatter on impact. This jar has thicker glass and thus will only crack on impact, thus still be usable for my purposes (I know this because I knocked over another similar jar that held my loose change several years ago and, despite its hazardous crack and chip, still holds my change to this day). I would have gone to a secondhand thrift store like Savers and tried to find a jar there first, but Harmon’s was on the way home.

What does this have to do with green and crunchy living? Well, people have recognized that there is a market for providing products that are preservative free, made of plant compounds, clothes made of bamboo, floss made of another plant, loose herbs not in pill form, herbs in pill form, essential oils, protein bars that are vegan and gluten free, cookies with the word Organic in the label, seaweed in tiny packets for huge prices, and everything you could want (or think you need) to be healthy, earth-conscious, and So Much Better Than You, all wrapped in plastic, waxed cardboard, styrofoam, and pyramid schemes. Consumerism affects us all, folks, and they want the Green Market along with everybody else.

None of us are immune to consumerism, me included. When I started getting into herbs and essential oils, I wanted All The Stuff and bought books galore (which I haven’t read all the way through), stuff to make my own homemade toothpaste (I’ll save the details for another post), organic and easily absorbed vitamins, seaweed (that stuff is addictive), and tons of essential oils, many from DoTerra because they are The Best (I’m still paying my mom back–that’s another post too). All of this spending left me broke and with piles of plastic waste.

And yet it seems I still haven’t learned my lesson. I found a natural health store chock full of herbs in pill form and minerals in pill form and liquid form, with shelves of protein powder along one wall and books of spiritual balance along another. They also had loose herbs (not to be confused with bulk herbs), all neatly packaged in plastic storage bags. They were the first store I’d been to in my new city that had herbs outside of a pill or essential oil bottle, so I bought several. And while I probably got a better deal on the cinnamon than I would if I’d bought a little container in a grocery store, I still looked at all those plastic bags and though, “What am I doing?”

The goal of someone who lives a green and crunchy life is to be a more responsible person, both monetarily and environmentally. The idea is that doing so will lead to a healthier and more full life as you seek to declutter yourself and return to your roots. Being green and crunchy should, ideally, cost less money and create less waste. And yet we live in a society that markets even clean living and naturalistic techniques. As I look back on myself, on what I own, on what I’ve bought, on what I’ve given away, I wonder if I am very green or crunchy at all.

I hope that I can find that balance, that sweet spot between green living and the consumer world we live in, and become an ever more aware and better person.

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