Shopping and Sad


We live in a semi-rural area which is about 30 minutes drive to the Sunshine Coast.

Today we braved the retail chaos which is becoming more pronounced as each year goes by. Early January is a particularly crazy time as we combine post-Christmas sales, back-to-school preparations and the inevitable holidaymakers. I think this year is worse than usual as more people are around as they are not travelling further afield.

This was our shopping list:

Roll of chicken wire – to fence a dog run for our puppy
Screws for attaching metal sheeting – to complete one side of the dog run
Galvanised pipe and connections – to make a hanging rail for the laundry
Small saddle brackets – to attach gate for dog run
9V battery – replacement for smoke alarm
Prescription medications – essential
Toaster – a replacement as the previous one has ceased to operate
Pet medication – essential

The list was thought out, planned and could hardly be described as frivolous. Since it is a 70km round trip we try to make sure that we make the journey worthwhile. We did not spend any longer than necessary and were home in under 3 hours despite the busy carparking areas and heavy traffic in every direction.

This is the hanging rail assembled. It needs to be painted and then installed.

So, why am I sad?

I think it was witnessing the overwhelming amount of stock in every shop we passed and the hordes of shoppers buying more and more stuff. Is it to replace an item, as with our toaster? Perhaps but I am more than mildly sceptical of that reason for more than a very small percentage of purchases.

The passion for decluttering in recent years and resultant overflowing charity shops leads me to think that many of today’s purchases or the goods they are replacing will be charity shop stock in a matter of months.

Many items, including clothes, electronics and household goods can be purchased cheaply and we do not value or care for them but almost regard them as disposable. When they break, are superseded by a new model or are simply no longer the ‘flavour of the month’ we toss them aside. Many of these discarded consumer items end up in landfill but to salve our consciousness we drop them at the charity shop. Unfortunately, a significant proportion still ends up in landfill and takes up time, effort and resources of those who volunteers to assist the various charities.

Everywhere you turn there are empty shops and businesses. Online shopping continues to gather pace. Are we buying more stuff because it is so easy to click a few buttons and it turns up on our doorstep in a matter of days? Is the lack of effort or consideration required making us shop more?

There is plenty of discussion amongst marketers on how to make sure that people continue to buy more and more stuff so that retailers and businesses can continue to increase their profits. At what cost?

We are drowning in our stuff and killing the planet in our quest to have more and more. I feel like something has to change and soon.

My personal action is to try not to waste anything, use what we have, source items secondhand where possible and be mindful that we have ‘enough’.

I wrote this post just over 6 years ago. There is a link to an interesting short video which is worth watching.

4 thoughts on “Shopping and Sad

  1. I know where your coming from the shops are chock a block with cloths etc. I give up looking because there is just so much to sort through in clothes shops we too now try to make a list and get in and out as quickly as possible, driving home from shops recently the charity bins were full to overflowing so sad indeed.

  2. I saw the title of your post on Outback blog and thought I would click in. I experienced the same thing today….shopping is just depressing to me anymore. In the USA it almost looks like the stores are going out of business and maybe they are. I don’t feel sorry for the bigger stores. They have encouraged online shopping for a couple of years now and they are reaping their “rewards” . I was looking for a birthday present but I refuse to waste money just to get something.

  3. I know how you feel. I have just perused a catalogue and am disgusted at some items on offer – e.g. an electric potato masher for $79.00! What a waste of money, materials and space. The novelty will soon pass it will be cast aside!

  4. I have just finished reading “The Story of More” by Hope Jahren, which I borrowed from my local library. I highly recommend it as it’s one of the best and most realistic books I’ve read on how our ever-increasing use of our Earth’s resources has brought us to the point of dangerous climate change and how we so very much need to embrace, individually and collectively, a story of less.

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