This challenged has definitely expanded my thinking and awareness of consumerism; both in personal shopping and others. I think the biggest lesson I learned was being much more aware of empathetic design and how people define themselves with their purchases. People, and myself, create these emotional connections to purchases, which seem is used as justification for consumerism. I have been trying to pay more attention to the way people talk about their purchases since we started this challenge. Working in retail, I have heard such phrases as “…he makes me so angry, so now I am going to spend my old man’s money!” (same woman also expressing a similar statement when she has had a good day), “retail therapy. I received some bad news so I thought I would cheer myself up with shopping”, and other phrases revolving around going on a date, having a special event to go to, etc that involve how other people perceive them and/or how they feel about themselves.
Another lesson I learned, mostly about myself, is creating goals, lists, and strategies is really helpful in reducing the amount of purchases made. I used to blow through money, and I am not cured of this issue, on useless items, but through this challenge, I have tried to be more budget and consumer conscious. However, I have also seen how easy it can be to switch back into the consumer mindset and even justifying purchases because of the way it will make me feel or how others will perceive me.
Lastly, I have found this challenge to be very rewarding. I had a couple slip-ups with purchasing items, but I recycle much more, I think more about each purchase and how long I intend on using the item, and I have found talking about this challenge gets other people’s heads reeling about sustainability. The challenge has also challenged me to be much more creative and taught me creativity does not necessarily mean the need for spending money.