Earth day is once again upon us with this year's happening on April 22, 2018. As in past years, I am devoting one of my weekly blog posts to the environment. This is a subject very close to my heart and has been for years. I tend to celebrate Earth Day everyday but it is always good to take some time for reflection as there is always room for improvement.
This year I want to talk a bit about consumerism and how we can better spend our money. By being a more mindful consumer, we can make a huge impact on the planet.
Earth Day Reflections: Why We Don't Love Our Stuff Enough
A few years ago I read an article that changed my life. At the time I didn't realize the impact it was going to make so alas never saved it and can only go off of my memory. In it, the writer argued that the reason we live in such a consumer driven society is not that we love stuff, but rather that we don't love our stuff enough. This at the time seemed a radical approach to me. Here we were surrounded by mountains of stuff, surely we must LOVE stuff. The problem is that we seem to enjoy collecting items, not necessarily the joy each item can bring on its own.
Thinking about things a bit brought me to the realization that if we truly loved each and every item that we owned it would solve so many of the problems around us. It is a lot of work to truly love something and that is not a commitment to take on lightly. Take for example a pair of Wonderpants (I am stealing this term from Anthony Bidulka's book Amuse Bouche, a truly fantastic mystery novel.) Now if you haven't had the privilege of reading the above mentioned book, wonderpants refer to the main characters special pair of pants that fit amazingly and look great. They are an article of clothing that our hero: Russell Quant puts on whenever he wants to look and feel amazing. They give him confidence and are his go to pants whenever he needs that extra bit of something special. Although it is never mentioned in the book specifically, I would imagine that these pants were treated with extreme care. I mean, these pants are pretty special, you would take the extra time to fold them and actually read the label so that they were cleaned properly and you wouldn't just throw them away, they are irreplaceable. Perhaps you personally have an item of clothing that you also feel the same way about. I have several, mostly dresses. They are the ones I pull out when I have a special meeting to go to or when I am having a rough morning and want to feel a bit better. They fit me well and I love the way I feel when wearing them. Now if I am realistic, these dresses to anyone else are not that special. They were not expensive, they are not designer dresses and although a decent quality there really isn't anything exceptional about them; just the way I feel when I wear them. As I love these dresses, they are always cleaned with care and if anything was to happen to them (alas a small rip or a button came off) I would fix them. After all, these items are irreplaceable so require that extra attention.
Let's imagine a world where every single one of the items we owned brought forth the joy that I talked about with my dresses. What if every book, trinket, picture and item in your closets brought a smile to your face when you looked at them? If you are like me, this is not the case at this particular moment but shouldn't it be? Money after all is about making life more comfortable but in many cases it seems to bring stress in the form of clutter. Instead of buying everything we like, what if we raised the bar a little bit and only purchased items we loved. Would that change the number of purchases you brought home? Would it mean you cared and maintained the items in your home more than you do? For me, yes it would.
My goal, is that every item I purchase brings me the same level of joy that Russel feels for his wonderpants. This means that every purchase I make is a mindful decision, one that requires me to think. It is not enough that something is on sale or that the colour looks nice, it has to be perfect otherwise it is not worth the care, maintenance and storage. I am certainly not perfect and occasionally an item comes home with me that doesn't fit this criteria but most items do and the joy I get when I see and use them is amazing..
How To Love Our Stuff More
The lesson that I took from the article and through other readings that I have done since is that is you want to get joy from your items, you need to love them all individually. So the next time you want to buy another white shirt, ask yourself if you truly love it or if you are buying it for another reason. Perhaps you are bored or using shopping to fill a void where something else in your life is missing. Either way, shopping is not bad (If I am honest I love shopping) but be mindful of where your dollars are going.
How Thea-Bel Encourages Mindful Spending
My goal when I started Thea-Bel was to get quality handmade products into the hands of the people who want them. I never want anyone to settle, whether it is on a birthday card or a knitted stuffed animal, I want customers to find something that they are proud of and will keep. Handmade items are generally a higher quality than something made cheaply out of a foreign country so that means your purchases generally last longer (even our cards as I have seen some on display months after they were given) so that you can love them for a longer time.
Happy Earth Day Everyone!