Could you stop shopping at Zara for a year? How about Madewell? And Fenty? Could you seriously give up Fenty for a year!? And what if you had to stop buying everything?
Ann Patchett did just that. For an entire year, the author stopped shopping and in The New York Times, she writes about the experience.
First, Patchett shares why she decided to stop the constant consumerism cycle:
At the end of 2016, our country had swung in the direction of gold leaf, an ecstatic celebration of unfeeling billionaire-dom that kept me up at night. I couldn’t settle down to read or write, and in my anxiety I found myself mindlessly scrolling through two particular shopping websites, numbing my fears with pictures of shoes, clothes, purses and jewelry. I was trying to distract myself, but the distraction left me feeling worse, the way a late night in a bar smoking Winstons and drinking gin leaves you feeling worse. The unspoken question of shopping is “What do I need?” What I needed was less.
She gave herself some rules - she couldn't buy clothes or shoes, but she could buy anything she needed from a grocery store. She could buy necessities like shampoo and batteries, but only after she fully ran out of what she had. And she could buy books, because she writes books and co-owns a book store, and that's her right in an arbitrary decision.
Patchett writes that the first few months were filled with "gleeful discoveries" - like using the last of her chapstick and trying to decide if it was a necessity before deciding to look around and find 5 more chapsticks around her house. #RELATABLE. She also shares that the things she thought she would need to buy more of - shampoo, face creams, that kinda thing - she actually had a ton of squirreled around the house, particularly under her bathroom sink.
She also shared that not shopping saves a ton of time - you don't scrawl J.Crew for hours on end, or spend a few days trying to pick out the perfect dress to wear to a special occasion. You just pick something and go. Done.
Patchett comes out of the experience with some some interesting revelations. "If you stop thinking about what you might want, it’s a whole lot easier to see what other people don’t have," she writes.
She also shares that the experiment made her think more about how she can use the time (and money) to help people who really need it.
The things we buy and buy and buy are like a thick coat of Vaseline smeared on glass: We can see some shapes out there, light and dark, but in our constant craving for what we may still want, we miss life’s details. It’s not as if I kept a ledger and took the money I didn’t spend on perfume and gave that money to the poor, but I came to a better understanding of money as something we earn and spend and save for the things we want and need. Once I was able to get past the want and be honest about the need, it was easier to give more of my money to people who could really use it.
Yes, I love this! Maybe next year is the year of giving up shopping, and spending more time on things that matter. Volunteering, donating, giving back - these are all things the world needs now, more than ever. (But first, I'm gonna go cruise Premme. What? I gotta look cute while I'm doing it!)
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