There are few features of Australian society that are more unattractive and less constructive than rampant consumerism. The only beneficiaries of this behaviour seem to be the retailers and perhaps the people they employ.
How paying more can save you money
Both of these outcomes have merit but they also come at an enormous cost, not least of which are wasted resources, environmental damage and diminished lifestyles.
All the junk being produced and purchased every day requires resources to be produced. Nothing is produced out of thin air and ALL resources on the planet are limited. The fact is, we are wasting the world's resources on producing STUFF that will produce no real dividend and are most likely to end up on a dump sooner rather than later.
This leads into the second issue – rubbish and environmental damage. Not only is the environment damaged in the manufacturing process, but it is further damaged when landfill sites fill up with non-degradable rubbish. This is simply not sustainable.
Buying junk also does little for our lifestyle. While delivering some short-term pleasure or joy, it takes up the financial resources that might be spent on something more worthwhile, it fills up storage spaces and looks unattractive, it makes us fat and unhealthy and it delivers far less joy than quality.
I can pick a cheap $300 suit anywhere. Sure, it costs less that a better quality $2000 suit, but everyone knows it is cheap. It also delivers less personal pleasure, lasts a shorter time and moves to the back of the wardrobe relatively quickly, meaning it will be helping to fill a landfill site soon.
People are forever lined up outside of junk food outlets buying cheap food that is never as good as it looks in the photograph and leaves the purchaser fatter, guilty and perversely hungry, or bloated. If that same person ate less often but consumed quality food, they might feel better and they most certainly would be richer – because junk food does not work out cheaper in the end.
It has long been said that the cheapest car to buy is a Mercedes. They may cost four times more than a standard vehicle, but they also feel better, break down less often and last five times longer – so long as you are not stuck on the emotional need to be seen in a new car all the time. Given the rate these vehicles depreciate, a three-year old, $70,000 Mercedes represents better value than a new $70,000 Holden any day.
I have gone to the extreme in discussing a Mercedes, but the fact remains that quality is almost always cheaper and more satisfying in the long run.
I have never purchased anything off a television commercial, because i have been in kitchens where the cupboards are full of such crap with very few minutes of use.
I never buy junk food because i know i will feel worse and poorer afterwards. Even that cold beer is never as good as it looks, unless it is a quality brew. Cheap wine delivers nothing but a greater hangover. You are better off drinking less.
From my office in the city I can see the streets full of people shopping seven days a week. I can't see what they get out of it. The average Australian lives 700,000 hours and to spend too many of those precious hours shopping seems to me to be a waste of life. When I go into the shop and see the junk people are buying, I am not surprised they spend most of their waking hours worrying about their mortgage and electricity bills.
The fact is, electricity bills as a percentage of income have not increased since 1950. What has increased is the percentage of people's incomes spent on junk. And for those who say that we all have the right to enjoy life, I would suggest that you would enjoy it more if you purchase less and purchase better quality. We all know how much more pleasure there is in quality.
For those who say that most of the junk is purchased for the kids, why not try saying no more often. You are doing your children no favours buying them junk. You may deliver short-term joy (and relief for you), but you are teaching them a lifelong bad habit.
I have a rule about these things: If I cannot afford quality, I don’t purchase. And to make this easier I have a second rule: when I do make a purchase i look after it so i don’t have to make a purchase again any time soon.
I also only ever go shopping when it is absolutely essential and so I rarely feel tempted. My other habit is to NEVER watch commercial television. That way, I'm not subjected to the junk they televise, the rubbish commentators on their sports coverages or the junk their advertising is trying to sell me.
And for anyone who sees this as a bit hard to do – get a spine!
Stop buying junk. Buy less stuff and when you do purchase something, go for better quality. Your life will be better in so many ways – as will the environment.