Monday, June 27, 2011

Simple Suggestion #30... Avoid shopping malls

Warning: if you love shopping, this moodling was not written for you. Or maybe it was, to offer a little food for thought...

Suggestion #30 could be simplified to "avoid temptation." Honestly, if we NEED something, it's okay to go and buy it. But it's important to understand the difference between NEED and WANT. Going shopping is one of life's necessities in a society where we lack the capabilities to grow all our own food and supply all our own clothing. But going to a shopping mall to while away the time is silly because the retail world is designed to suck us in and fill our lives with stuff that we really don't NEED. Shopping malls seem to ensure that we come home with more than we need. Just walking through one to get to the grocery store when we need food is an exercise in self-control. Heck, walking through a grocery store is, too, because a lot of retailers' business is selling unnecessary items along with necessities.

We've reached that point in the year where my daughters could use some summer clothing, and this past weekend, we had a wedding to attend that required we spruce ourselves up a bit more than usual. So I did the unthinkable and went clothes shopping three times in two days at two different malls. It actually worked out quite well in the end because we got what we needed (two dresses and a pair of sandals). The problem is the things that we didn't need. I really didn't need a string of faux pearls... and my daughter really didn't need that pair of cream-coloured high heels. She has nothing to wear them with -- unless she goes shopping some more. Of course, they were a deal, on sale for just $15, and who can resist a deal?

Retailers know that a good deal is a hard thing to resist, so you see 10 to 90% OFF! signs everywhere shoppers collect. Or, buy one, get one free! Or any number of other sales options. Our Pavlovian response of buying stuff that's on sale fills our homes and lives with a lot of incidentals that take up our time and both physical and mental space. They also take up Earth's valuable resources -- unnecessarily, a lot of the time. Could I live without that string of faux pearls that I'll only wear maybe once or twice a year? Definitely!

I was lucky to escape the malls this weekend with nothing more than those beads and their reminder of my own recently neglected shopping rules:

1. When shopping, take a list and stick to it.
2. Go only to the stores that may have what you need.
3. When possible, try second-hand stores or garage sales first.
4. Avoid places where too many stores are in close proximity, as temptation to go overboard is greater there. Support small businesses instead.

There's more shopping ahead of me this week as someone still definitely needs some basic clothing items. But this time when we go, I'm sticking to my rules.

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Try here.

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