Here’s a thought-provoking post from the Humans of New York blog that pretty much sums up my views on “stuff,” even though I don’t consider myself a big “save the environment” type of person. I have never understood the rage about the latest iPhone/iPad/iPod/i-whatever. I have a Samsung phone, and it’s pretty old compared to the newest version that’s out there (I have no idea what version they’re up to now; I can’t keep up), but it still works just fine, so there is no reason to get a new one. Same with my computer. I’ve had it and its components for several years. It’s a bit slow, but it doesn’t bother me because all I use it for is Internet, music, and word processing. No need to go out and buy the latest laptop (even though they are very shiny and tempting) just because it’s new.
Clothes are the same way, to a certain degree. Back when I had my fast food job, we had to wear a uniform that was supplied by the restaurant (except for the pants). I remember thinking that this was a brilliant excuse to never go clothes shopping again because I would not need fancy clothes to dress up for work. But when I got an office job, clothes shopping once again became a necessary evil.
The Humans of New York post also says “‘materialism’ implies that we value our possessions. And we don’t. We get rid of them…” This is true. For many electronic devices, it is cheaper and less of a hassle to throw them away and buy new ones rather than fix or replace them, probably because the companies want you to shell out the money for brand new devices. Or we just don’t care and treat our stuff poorly because it is so easy to find a new one and replace it. You can order one on Amazon and have it shipped to you the next day.
I think “materialism” could also apply to our food supply and how we treat the animals that provide us with their meat. The industry produces an incredible amount of food, so much that it cannot be eaten (or bought by those who cannot afford it) and is therefore wasted. We also (and I include myself in this “we”) throw out a lot of leftovers because we don’t feel that there is any true need to save them. Fresh, new food is five minutes away in the nearest big-box grocery store.
I could go on forever, but my main point is that a lot of this “materialism” and “consumerism” is because we live in a convenience society, and the most convenient option is to throw it away and buy a new one.