personal, travel
Comments 26

Prepare to lie. Prepare to buy. Prepare to die. Part Two

relationships, online dating, raising a teenager, over 50, positive ageing

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (yet) in Australia, nor do we have Black Friday. In 2016, more than 154 million Americans shopped either online or in store, according to a National Retail federation survey from CNN, Nov 27. They spent $1.9 billion online on Thanksgiving Day and another $3.3 billion on Friday, according to Adobe. In 2014, total spending for the 4-day Thanksgiving/Black Friday holiday weekend was over $50 billion.

In 1994, I travelled through Indonesia with a flatmate from Sydney. We went to Sumatra, way off the beaten track then, and got terrible ‘Bali belly’ the day after we landed. It was the morning of an all-day bus ride up the island, and my period arrived too. So there I was, losing all my bodily fluids explosively from all holes, sitting on a crammed bus where we were the only white faces, driving further and further off into the unknown. We literally staggered off the bus that night and collapsed into a small family guesthouse, both of us thinking we may die.

Of course we didn’t, and the owner fed us hard boiled eggs and banana porridge for 3 days till we recovered. We climbed the nearby still-active volcano, trekked through the jungle, ate lots of good cheap food and put weight back on, then three weeks later headed back to Denpasar to fly home. We went into a supermarket to kill time, and I was absolutely delighted by the massive choice of products, the cleanliness, the shininess of the world.

That’s the first time I realized with alarmed clarity how strongly I’d been programmed to buy for comfort.

Watch Black Friday 2015 (1 min 28 of hell) HERE

Of course, for drama’s sake, I’ve picked an extreme example of consumerism, I admit.

So let’s get more relaxed and casual. I’ve always been a fervent second-hand shopper, which continues to this day. When complimented on groovy jeans, unique dress, or overall stylish outfit, I love being able to say it cost me $5 from a garage sale.

jeansblog

Now what do you do with your second hand clothes? Donate them to the charity shop? The amount of clothes Americans actually throw away into the rubbish each year has doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons currently, or 36 kilos per person. The EPA estimates that:

“…diverting all of those often-toxic trashed textiles into a recycling program would be the environmental equivalent of taking 7.3 million cars and their carbon dioxide emissions off the road…”

That’s so many cheap t-shirts and leggings! And if they’ve got a mix of manmade fibres in them, they’re going to be around for a very long time:

‘…synthetic fibers, like polyester, nylon and acrylic… are essentially a type of plastic made from petroleum, and will take hundreds of years, if not a thousand, to biodegrade.’

I still garden in a pair of denim cotton Levi red tag jeans I was given when I was 21. They’re stained and torn, but still completely function as trousers. We all need to stop buying CRAP! It’s simple. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Don’t stand in line all night to be the first one in the door at WalMart to buy a new TV; camp in a tent with your children or your neighbours’ children instead, telling stories and making shadows by torchlight on the fabric walls.

As I stood in front of those stocked shelves in Indonesia, finding comfort in my variety of choices, I felt a small piece of me curl up and wither. The part who’d survived the bus ride from hell, and the kindness of a stranger who’d fed me. The part who’d recovered, and climbed a volcano from dawn to dusk, with a small parcel of rice and curry wrapped in a banana leaf, no cutlery needed. The part who’d used sign language and a tatty dictionary to get around, but had still laughed and played with locals in a town square during a wedding celebration. It was my ‘wild woman survivor’ part; the part of me who can recover from illness, chop wood, give birth, move mountains. The part of me who KNOWS what’s good and right in this world, and what’s plain CRAP. We don’t need 15 different types of sugary cereal for breakfast:

‘The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 795 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2014-2016.’ [More info on World Hunger facts HERE.]

That simple banana porridge and hard boiled eggs from chickens at the end of the garden were enough. These 2nd hand cotton clothes are enough.

I am enough.

Now Christmas is coming, with temptations for Kris Kringle $20 gift exchanges no one really wants, and of course, incredible pressure to use credit cards and ‘no interest’ purchase plans.

Just say ‘No’. Don’t buy CRAP. Make gifts, swap gifts, or even better, use the cash you would have spent to make a donation to Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Oxfam or whoever you like. Just don’t buy CRAP. You can’t buy family cohesion. You can’t buy your kids love and respect, not really, not deep down. You can’t buy your way out of emptiness, or true soul loneliness. You can’t buy relief from guilt, or an escape from trauma. You may think you can, but that’s a learned behaviour. And I saw mine, reflected back to me in the shiny mirror of an Indonesian supermarket: I was dirty, smelly, skinnier than usual, and looking a bit like a rabbit caught in headlights under the fluorescent tubes. But oh boy did I look happy and pleased with myself. My wild, adventuring, surviving and thriving self, who’d swum way out of her comfort zone, flailed, sunk, flailed, and bobbed back up.

There is incredible power in being a consumer; and thus a non-consumer too.

In gratitude for simplicity, G xO 

26 Comments

  1. Absolutely agree. We moved from a artisanal/craftsmen world to one of total large scale production of everything and anything. If there is one way to describe it is that the weapons of mass production is destroying our world with too much cheap plastics and man-made composites! We practice the 3Rs too and glad to read there are kindred spirits out there!

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  2. Valley says

    Absolutely ! It’s a retraining and a constant discipline to kept at bay comfort consumption – has all the markets of addiction. We need to be proactive in our RRR and lead by example to our children. Great discussion and reminder to have now to counteract the frenzy of capitalism that goes with Christmas, and a great time to explore nature and avoid shops.

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    • Yes! So important to model it for the upcoming generation of consumers… and yes, find joy in Nature indeed. Thanks so much for reading & sharing xx

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  3. Reblogged this on bone&silver and commented:

    This seems like a timely re-blog re Black Friday shopping madness. 15,000 scientists just begged humanity to change course, for the sake of the environment we LIVE IN; we gotta make changes!

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  4. Well put Ms.Silver. Businesses are becoming smarter in how they market and even tease people into buying stuff. In fact, in the last few years, except for groceries, I cannot remember one single product that I bought (across different months) that was never on ‘sale’. There is always a regular price with a strike through in the background next to the ‘super cheap’ price that it is now. They play with our rationale and imply that we are better off buying it now, then in that ‘unknown point in time’ when the price was/would be higher. So most of us feel like we are being frugal and not really consuming more than we need. But what you say is absolutely true. If we are shopping based on price tags, that in itself means we are shopping for our wants and not our needs. This applies to me as well.

    I love getting to know people like you, who truly are content with what they have and understand what they really need. It takes a bit of effort to be that way, without giving off the impression to ourselves/others that we are Scrooge McDuck, and enjoying it. Way to go my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading and following along, plus going to the effort of making such a long comment. I’m not perfect by any means, but yes, we are all manipulated by the corporate greed, yet I try to resist as much as possible. I proudly call myself the Xmas Grinch though: haven’t bought presents or cards for over a decade I’d say! Even my 17-yr old doesn’t expect anything (although he does seem to get me to donate financially to his latest surf board purchase “for Christmas/birthday/Easter Mum”) ; )
      I hope you enjoy my blog, cheers G : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha ha, I don’t mind getting people presents, but yes, even I hate being pushed to a certain date and guilt tripping me to buy stuff. So I appreciate the Xmas Grinch in you 🙂 Here, there are sales that start at 5 PM on Thanksgiving night, the time you are ‘supposed’ to spend with your family. Not sure how that works anymore – neither the employees, or the crazy crowd that lines up in the chilly weather outside the stores for the ‘great deals’, seem to be giving thanks to anything. I guess whatever makes people happy works…

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  5. I am 100% with you. My Christmas list is miniscule because most of my friends and family agree that we don’t want or need gifts! I do give away a lot of unwanted kids and my clothes to charity as I hate throwing anything away. We used to be experts at the hand-made gifts when my kids were little. I still prefer it, or even a handmade card. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cougar; I was actually inspired to re-blog this post by someone else’s called ‘Fuck you Black Friday’- I think her title is better, but the sentiment is the same! We all have SO much stuff, compared to millions who don’t even have clean water or a toilet… watching the footage of people fighting over TVs just makes me sick…
      Thank you for reading & commenting, G

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  6. Well said! I’m sharing this on my personal FB page. I wish people could see the big picture and join all the dots up. Black Friday shop if they must (I really wish it wasn’t a thing), but to lose respect for themselves and their fellow human beings whilst doing it, shameful.

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    • Yup, I hang my head in disbelief… and thank you so much for sharing it. It feels like more and more of us need to stand up and talk about ‘the Emperor’s new clothes’, or rather, the fact that we all have SO MANY clothes already, and certainly don’t need more ‘stuff’- it’s a Western disease

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  7. Charis says

    Oh I love everything about this! Everything! I’m halfway through writing a post about Black Friday myself, and it’s got no where near as my punch as this! Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Charis- but keep writing yours- the more of us call it out, the better! Go girl : )
      I was actually inspired to re-blog this by someone else’s called ‘Fuck you Black Friday’- talk about punchy haha

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  8. Amen, powerful and so true. Once again words after my own heart and more stuff only brings heavier burdens to carry. Minimalism is the way to freedom and a better chance of happyness

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      • No I haven’t, but I have been in pursuit of doing the same and wanting to purchase and turn a school bus into a tiny home. I have to see what happens with Germany first before I can put timelines on it. Thank you for the link, I’ll definitely check it out and I’m so fascinated by it. I subscribed to several on Youtube who have done so. I’m waiting for the movie “Expedition Happiness”. It’s the movie about a German couple and their dog Max who sold everything in Berlin, bought a Schoolbus in the states and traveled from Canada down to Mexico. You can follow segments under that same title on youtube.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I read this on the tail of my shopping frenzy but it had nothing to do with thanksgiving and everything to do with total fear!!
    Interestingly enough though I joined an Australian online shopping site just recently and my inbox has been inundated with Black Friday and cyber Monday sales

    Liked by 1 person

      • I know, it is kind of scary really, I gave away ALL my stuff 2 years ago when I thought I was going home then had to accumulate again, now I have just finished giving away ALL my stuff again except I am obsessed with buying new clothes, shoes and purses because I am so afraid I am not going to get the kinds of stuff I am used to in Australia….Not for an affordable price anyway

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