Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Okay, What *Do* I Need?

No Buy February

The things I actually need to live and can't obtain without buying are easy to identify. Food and shelter. I also need warm clothing, of course, since I live in Chicago. But it's pretty easy not to buy any more clothing. I like new things, but I can go a month without buying more clothes; I think most people could.

What about drink? Technically, I don't have to buy drinks. Water comes out of my tap. Do I go super hard-core and only drink water for a month? Something tells me my long-suffering husband would not be on board with not buying beer for a month.

Which brings us to the family. Right now just my husband and me. I think that when embarking on something like this, it ought to be the household. (I'd love to try to extend this to my daughter, but I simply cannot wrap my brain around her going a month without buying anything. Does not compute. My son barely buys the stuff he needs to live, anyway.) So I'll be selling my husband on this over the next few days.

Okay, so I need food and shelter, but not clothes, and we're on the shelf about drink. Now comes the hard part.

Valentine's Day.

I like presents. I really like presents. But I think this holiday exemplifies one of the reasons I do this. Our culture has either co-opted holidays or simply cut new ones from whole cloth as an excuse to buy stuff. Valentine's Day is right up there in the second category. It is a "marketing" holiday, created to make us spend money on consumer goods. Granted, it's one of the older ones, but it's not a religious, historical, or cultural holiday in any way. The single way we celebrate Valentine's Day is by buying stuff.

So it's got to go. As does my husband's birthday (sorry sweetie).

Now, does this mean no presents? Of course not. If the point is to replace the extractive, consumptive economy with a productive creative one, here's the place to create something-- a card, a meal, a song, a day spent together.

Take the month to think about what you need. If what you need is love, and what you're getting is a box of chocolates, you're not really getting what you need.

And don't worry, more recipes coming up. After all, if I'm not buying stuff, I'll have more time to cook.

Read about No Buy February here.

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