Leaving consumerism behind…

With Boxing Day, Cyber Monday and Black Friday behind us for 2013 – I believe I have stepped into a new paradigm for myself.

I was born in Hong Kong – the land of street stalls and high end boutiques. My whole being was exposed to and bombarded by materialism and consumerism on a daily basis. Name Brands. Celebrities. The Ultra Rich. Old Money. The Nouveau Riche. Newest designs. Limited editions. Latest craze. Newest flavor.
If you have been to Hong Kong you will probably agree that with each step you take, your eyes will see another store’s signage; be it a jewelry store, food vendor, toys, clothing, fashion accessories, chachkas, etc. These fine establishments may be locally owned or an imported brand from around the world.
Before the wide spread use of online shopping, for me, Hong Kong was the epitome of global shopping. If you’re from homesick and wanted to find that brand of cookies you grew up with in, say, Denmark – I’m pretty sure you can find it in Hong Kong.

When my family immigrated to Winnipeg, Canada 28 years ago, I have seen typical Canadians change and shift in their mindsets toward materialism and consumerism. Perhaps my views are skewed – as I moved from the small city of Winnipeg to Toronto. Perhaps the “American dream” has become the “Global dream”. Incidentally, I see more and more of the general population indulge in consumerism, trading in the “old” for the “newer” model – sometimes at the expense of their credit ratings, racking up credit debt, satisfying their whims with their line of credits.
I was no better – I bought indiscriminately but always within my means. I enjoyed buying items on sale. My closet would typically have a few items of clothing or shoes with the original price tag – they would be forgotten for at least a few seasons. Then when I “discover” them I would say to myself “I will find an occasion to wear them” and tuck them back into the closet.
As a child, I’ve always been an avid collector of many objects. Originally they started as collections passed down from my brothers who out grew them; stamps, coins. Then I started my own collections; stickers, marbles, Coca-cola bottles and cans, sands from different beaches, beautiful photos, houseplants, orchids, unique earrings, Swarovski crystal figurines. I became a pack-rat!! Not quite a hoarder – Thank God!
Luckily, when it came to the electronic department, I do not buy the ‘toy’ of the moment. I moved my CRT TV from Winnipeg to Toronto and then finally gave it to my friend when I won a LCD TV at my company golf tournament. These days it’s quite the sight when Apple have a new release and people line up for days and hours to be one of the “firsts”. Right now I’m on my 4th phone, since 1998. Needless to say, I’m a bit behind the times.
Within the last few years, this question has popped up in my mind and in conversations. Is it really necessary to “keep up with the Jones”?
Perhaps you can say I’ve redirected my fervent for spending towards travel – as I’ve been to over 30 countries within the last 10 years. A smidge more than the typical Canadian – haha.
My new way of thinking is kind of like this: Instead of fueling consumerism and in turn adding more strain to our local landfill. I’ve chosen to expand my mind and as a result, increased my carbon footprint. Is this really a trade-off? I do not know how to keep the score on this environmentally, however, I know it’s easier to cart around the knowledge and experiences I’ve gained while traveling than all the physical items I would have purchased. You could argue that anyone can see the world at the click of a mouse through the interweb, however, personal experience would not be gained, only shared vicariously.
In addition to this – I am purging my possessions, making SPACE.
You know the feeling you get when you clear off a super cluttered kitchen counter and you rediscover your kitchen. That breath of fresh air. That happy empty feeling? That’s what I’m aiming for, in my house, in my life. Fresh start!!
Oh but don’t get me wrong, if you need company to go shopping – I’m right there beside you! I love bartering too! I know lots of great shopping spots around the world too! That’ll be some other posts!
Would you like to experience a paradigm shift for 2014?

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