In order to be an aspiring minimalist you have to get to a point where you are needlessly consuming, where you are handing over your hard-earned pounds purely as an exercise in accumulating, and finally realising that it’s a complete waste of time, money and effort.
I’ll assume we’ve all got to the final stage of rejecting consumerism and trying to make a conscious effort not to buy more stuff we don’t need. The question that I have been thinking about a lot however, is not how to get rid of more stuff but why we buy.
As many of you know, I’ve pledged not to buy anything for a year (you can read about it here on the Guardian) and it’s difficult. I hadn’t really appreciated how much ‘buying’ was a part of my life until I stopped doing it or how many emotions are attached to it.
Even as someone who is aspiring to minimalism and paring back belongings, I was still at the mercy of my emotions when it came to purchasing.
It’s not an exhaustive list, and feel free to add your own thoughts/experiences in the comments, but these are just some of the reasons why I have bought items in the past:
You know how it goes; you’re at home with nothing better to do and rather than pick up that book or go to the gym, or do something productive, you end up scrolling clothing websites or homewares and all of a sudden you’ve bought three dresses that you’re never going to wear.
L’Oreal coined the phrase ‘because you’re worth it’, and I’ve run with that concept. If I’ve achieved something then I deserve a reward, which is fine as long as the ‘achievement’ isn’t ‘I went to work’.
This is a classic: I can’t be bothered to spend 20 minutes putting together a lunch for work tomorrow that would probably cost me £1 so I’m going to spend £5 tomorrow buying it from Pret.
Getting recognition for something you’ve bought can be a thrill. Someone may have noticed your new boots, or be impressed by your enormous record collection. The acknowledgment and respect we receive from owning certain items makes us feel valued.
It doesn’t matter if I need it or not, look how cheap it is! Bargain-hunting has two flaws, firstly that you buy for the sake of buying something cheap, and secondly that because it’s cheap it usually breaks and you have to buy it again anyway.
This may seem like a strange one but I think this is definitely something that I can really identify with. I bought things to craft an image of myself that I wanted to project; someone who was cool, fun and interesting. It’s only as I’ve got older that I realise none of the items I bought made me any of those things.
More importantly I realised that the people who I wanted to impress with those items either didn’t care (because they’re your friends) or did care (and they’re the people you don’t want to be friends with anyway).
So, tell me, why do you buy?