Beyond personal discernment, there is still something invisible at large that I know is influencing my spending.
For example, I recently received an extra vacuum cleaner as a wedding gift (even though we told our guests no gifts!), and promptly tried to sell it as we really didn’t need two vacuum cleaners. Our buyer was a lovely lady called Beverly who later sent us this note:
“The vacuum cleaner works fine. It is my third one, over the years. When the battery wears out, it is cheaper to buy a new one then replace the battery. I think that is a waste of resources, but I don’t know what else to do.”
We know there are forces beyond our control, as our products are increasingly being “designed for the dump” in what is known as planned obsolescence. There’s a fantastic segment from The Story of Stuff that talks about this – how companies are strategically designing for products to break as fast as possible, yet long enough that customers keep the faith and continue buying. And now there’s also perceived obsolescence, that merely by changing the stuff looks every season, we continue buying just to keep up!
I also began to see that how all of us are actually paying the full price of our stuff, but we are paying for it in indirect, more invisible ways. We pay the full price of food through our medical costs, we pay for convenience and low prices and through endorsing the work culture and labor treatment that comes along with it, not to mention the toxic waste and pollution that goes back into the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink.
There are so many people in jobs they don’t like, producing stuff that we don’t want, convincing us to buy stuff we don’t need, using resources that we don’t even have.
Now I put on a different lens and think about the true cost of that H&M Tank Top selling at $4, or how an Amazon delivery gets dropped off at my door on a Sunday, or who is really paying for the “ savings” when I use my mileage credit card.
Who is paying the full price?
This is Part 3 of our Mindful Spending Series. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.