I rarely venture into large towns these days. There is just no need. I can find most of things I want amongst the charity shops of my local town.
However, last week, I found myself walking up Winchester High St, gazing in the shop windows full of clothes, and homewares, and even the start of some Christmas displays, and I was surprised to find that the ‘stuff’ had lost it’s appeal. If I’m being 100% truthful, the lure of Fat Face woollies and White Stuff skirts was still pretty strong even a year ago, but now it’s pretty much gone. Going back a couple of years, I definitely would still have felt a slight sense of some kind of loss, of deprivation, that I was denying myself these treasures. But now, not so much.
And that in itself was quite a realisation. And a chance to reflect on just how far I have come on my journey towards more conscious consumption.
And then my eye was drawn to a window display that made me do a double take.
In the window of the Cath Kidston shop, alongside the floral bags, and the homewares, emblazoned on the window, was the hashtag #INEEDITBECAUSE.
Even without doing any research into the advertising campaign, I got it.
I understood the message that the advertisers were putting out there:
You need this bag, or that bag, or even the other bag. Yes, you may already have that other bag, but you NEED this bag.
Because it will make you feel better; it will look good; your life will be complete when you have this bag (or the other bag, or that other pair of shoes).
It’s kind of saying that it’s ok to buy another bag. It’s giving you permission. Even if you already have one that’s really similar. Even if you can’t really afford it.
It’s ok to buy another bag.
Because you need it.
Actually you don’t.
No one needs a new bag.
We need food, and water, and shelter. Human interaction, friends, love and laughter. Resilience, and strength. Courage and compassion and kindess. Good times, and good people around us.
None of that can be found in a bag.
No one needs a new bag. I am sure that we could all make do with something we already had.
Lots of people might want a new bag. And that’s a very different thing.
It took me longer than it should it should have done during My Make Do and Mend Year, to realise that the majority of my needs, were actually wants.
And do you know what? That’s ok.
It’s ok to want new stuff. I would go as far as to say that it seems to be part of the human condition to constantly be wanting new things.
But I have found that once I acknowledge that it’s a want, and not a need, I am able to make a more conscious decision about how much I want it.
Do I want it enough to not really care about where it is made, what it is made from, who has made it, and what will happen to it after I grow bored with it?
And most of the time, I don’t.
I think it’s really interesting to stop for a moment and consider how different the impact of #INEEDITBECAUSE might be, if just one word was changed: #IWANTITBECAUSE.
It suddenly has a whole different context.
We are somehow led to believe that wanting things is wrong. Maybe it stems from that whole toddler “I WANT” thing, I don’t know.
But if you need it, well that’s entirely different. Of course you can have it if you need it….
It’s ok to want stuff.
What I have learned (and it’s taken a while) is that it’s ok to want stuff, but you need to consciously want it, and then make a deliberate decision to buy it.
We need to stop and think about what we are buying: whether it’s a want or a need. And if it’s a want, then maybe we just wait a day or two, and maybe that want, that desire for a quick hit of retail therapy will lessen. And maybe sometimes we won’t buy it. Because we choose not to.
We choose to have less ‘stuff’, and more money in our pockets.
And we have made a conscious choice about who we give our money to. About the world we are creating when we spend our money (or not).
That can only be a good thing.