Recently I downloaded the Buycott app, intrigued by the prospect of boycotting products that profit Monsanto and the Koch Brothers. Of course, the joke that went along with that was that you’d wind up buying nothing at all. And I thought– well, is that a bad thing?

A whole host of forces have converged to make me want to consume less over the past few years. So this here blog is going to be my attempt at chronicling my successes and failures in consumption, as well as examining what consumption means to me. I am a pretty normal suburban mom– we are not going to go zero waste or live off the grid– but I do want to be more mindful of what we consume. I worry I am going to get absolutely insufferable about this, I am not going to lie. But look at my reasons:

  • Environmental. I come by my environmentalist streak via my mother, who has been bringing her own cloth bags to the grocery store for 20something years and was recycling long before it was curbside. (Jan’s a trendsetter, what can I say?) Obviously, the less you consume the less waste you generate and the better it is for the planet. But I don’t think I realized until reading The View From Lazy Point just how harmful the manufacturing of all the products we consume is. (And how unnatural our consumption rates have become.)
  • Health/Wellness I have been eliminating processed food from my diet for the past six months, inspired by 100 Days of Real Food, Food Matters (and the other recent work of Mark Bittman), Michael Pollan and Michael Moss, etc. I am quite convinced that highly processed food is unhealthy and a mostly plant-based, real food diet is best. It’s easy enough for *me* to eat that way but working on my family (which includes two children who would prefer to live off the Trader Joe’s snack aisle) is difficult. I’m looking to strike the balance between throwing up my hands and letting them live on granola bars and being the crazy mom who feeds her kids nothing but lentils. So for them, not eliminating junk but minimizing it.
  • Financial. We started using the You Need A Budget method last year and I am a drink-the-Koolaid kind of person with just about everything and this in particular. I read the blog regularly and listen to the podcast and even took an investment course. While I think the idea of saving money by not spending it is kind of wishful thinking, I do like the idea of spending your money purposefully. My hope is that continued and focused attention to some of the unnecessary consumption we do as a family will allow us to be more purposeful in our spending. (This is part of the “Do More.”)
  • Spiritual/emotional. One of the lessons I really struggle with is the fact that stuff doesn’t make me happy. Things are not a source of contentment. I know this from experience, I’ve read about this, and I believe this, but I forget this pretty much the minute a J.Crew sale email hits my inbox or I scroll through Pinterest. And even though I struggle with it, it still makes me bonkers to see my kids wrestle with it- when they start asking for another new toy two minutes after getting a new toy, or when they are asking for new shirts despite having a whole drawerful. I’m hoping that paying attention to this- choosing to not consume and trying to channel my time and energies into things that do lead to happiness- will make it easier to remember. (And give my children a foundation so they aren’t grownups thinking that next purchase will solve everything.)
  • Moral. I’ve put off reading Overdressed for a year now because honestly, I didn’t want to know. But the Bangladesh garment factory collapse was impossible to avoid– and for someone who has a closet full of $3-20 sale dresses, shirts and more from the Gap and Old Navy it’s hard not to feel my shopping habit has left me with blood on my hands. Like processed food consumption, I think restrictions on cheap fashion consumption will be easier to implement for me than for the kids.

It all seems so compelling written up like that. But it all falls apart on a single trip to Target. Coming up, some of the hows. (Probably one of the hows: never go to Target.) I’d love to hear your thoughts- are you reducing your consumption? Why?


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Amy S. on May 28, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Okay, I promise not to be a serial replier…..
    Love what you are doing Hannah! Can’t wait to keep up with your blog. At first I wanted to give up Target 100%. But I was not ready for that. So as of Jan 2013 I only allow myself one Target trip per month and I save the receipt so at the end of the year I can review the purchases and figure out alternatives.


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