Talking this morning on the Jamie and Louise show http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007y9mt (dahling) made me think about the initial aims of my year and the blog. I guess the last few months has given me a little clarity and a fresh perspective on consumerism and the process of rejecting it.
Some people have only grasped the fringes of what it's all about, some have said "what are you doing out in the pub? You must be expecting people to buy you drinks". I've had to bite my tongue a few times. Rejecting consumerism does not mean not spending any money. I think that supporting the British pub trade is an excellent way to spend your money and it helps to boost local economies. But what I won't do is go clubbing in your nationwide chain of "Oceana"s. First and foremost because it's my idea of hell. Instead of going to Wetherspoons for a beer or some dinner, I try to go to a little independent. The British pub industry should be supported.
I have not gone shopping for 3 months now, and it has generated me considerable extra time and, as I said, perspective. I have spent money, of course, on outings with the family, necessities - shampoo, soap, that sort of thing. What consumerism rejection about is spending your consciously and deliberately. I try to go to the greengrocer instead of the supermarket, but sometimes I fail to do that. If I have to go to the supermarket, I try to use Sainsbury's (they are a little more ethical) or Lidl/Aldi because they don't indulge in subtle mind control techniques to encourage you to overspend. Marketing is kept at a minimum.
This is a quite good example. I have to colour my hair these days, and it's needed doing for a little while. I could just nip up to Tesco, I need some bread and vegetables anyway, and pick up a box of colour, whatever happens to be on offer. Or, I could take a little trip to my local high street, visit the baker and the grocer and then take a little detour to the health food shop and pick up an organic henna dye from a Fairtrade source. That's what rejecting consumerism is about. Conscious choices, conscious spending.
The world of media, magazines, TV, society as a whole demands that we "keep up" with current fashion, indulge in the pastimes they say we should (health spas, shopping, nail bars) and that we all try to live up to the cult of celebrity. We could all look like Kylie if it was our job to be Kylie, but we're not. We're thinking feeling, choosing individuals with the power to govern our own destinies. Make conscious choices.
Chances are that your average "age defying" skin product is exactly the same as it was 6 months ago. Just in new packaging. So don't be fooled.
"90% of testers reported a marked increase in skin tone" something like that is the claim of some new Netrogena product. If you look VERY carefully at the small print at the bottom, the product was extensively tested on a whole 34 people. Wow. And who paid for that research? I think I could guess.
Your life will not be transformed by you purchasing this newly fragranced floor cleaner. Your family will not love you more, or less. Your life will not now be simpler, happier or more pretty. Your floor won't be any cleaner than if you used a less marketed product, and you won't notice the difference once the artificial pong has gone.
Be really aware of the subtle manipulation that goes on when you shop. Models aren't just to show you what the clothes look like on. They're to make you think that your life will be like that fake photo shoot if you buy that item. Celebrity styles - if you dress like "whoever" your life might become a bit like that person's. Some of the glamour will rub off.
Well, I have some news. IT WON'T