Saturday, August 25, 2012

Do I really need this?

Ads flash by me on the walls of the BART tunnels. The magazine I read on the train is at least 30 percent advertisement. As I walk out of the station and into the Financial District of San Francisco, I watch the people surge toward the street corners and take note of what they are wearing, driving, or riding. I get to work and I open boxes full of samples from companies who want them featured in the magazine and instantly decide if it's something I like or not. 

On my lunch break I run the Embarcadero and wish I had a new running top for cold days and headphones that didn't stop working as soon as I got sweaty. I like that girls shoes, I wish I had a bag like that, what if I had a bike like that guys. 

I'm bored while I eat lunch so I sneak online and I see what the best running headphones are, how much would a new shirt cost, wouldn't it be great if I could own a shirt just like that sample sitting on my desk?

Image courtesy of The Age of Baggage

I know I'm not the only one to notice the advertisements and pretend like I don't only to find myself thinking about the product later in the day. And it's not just the ads, but also the people around us and what they have that make us want more things. 

This summer has been a constant struggle for me to balance these wild, and sometimes practical, consumer desires. In order to reduce just how many items I am buying to save not only money, but also the resources and environmental impact I have been:

1. Avoiding malls and stores. I only go when I have an absolute necessity and then I stick to my list.

2. I make a list of things that I absolutely "need" and things I would like. The items have to sit on that list for at least a week but ideally more than two. If after two weeks I realize I lived without it just fine I either delete it or move it to the want/like list. So far this summer I have added at least 20 items to my like/want list, and all except for one were deleted.

3. Look for another option. I have so many possessions already that I'm bound to already own the solution. I don't need that bag because I have one that I can make work. I don't need another running shirt if I do a load of laundry midweek. I don't need a notepad because I can just divide the one I already own in half. It turns out I can fill my needs with what I already have for the majority of the things on my need list. 

Image courtesy of Business Insider

4. Let it go. So what if I like something better than what I have? What I have works, and I liked it when I first bought it. It's time to like what I have and realize that they are only objects, and if it's not functional, I don't need it. 

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