Golden Arrow of Consumption

The fury over Black Friday and Cyber Monday has made me think of the Golden Arrow of Consumption in the materials economy so cleverly and concisely illustrated in The Story of Stuff. The sales encourage consumers to purchase more of what they don’t need – or even really want – to participate in the ritual of shopping and to take advantage of the deal.

I saw some organizations asking people not to shop, but to spend time with friends and family on Friday. There is also the Buy Nothing Day campaign. I’m not sure those campaigns had the same momentum as the shopping weekend. I did find myself running to the grocery store on Thursday, before our dinner, to pick up some ingredients I’d forgotten earlier in the week. Though grateful my local store was open, I felt a significant amount of guilt that the workers were missing out on their families’ celebrations for my convenience. I was also very cognizant of the strikes by Wal-Mart workers to raise awareness of their abysmal working conditions.

I myself was overwhelmed with hundreds of emails promoting sales from Thursday through Cyber Monday. Even though I know better, I found myself caught up in the mental trap: but if I don’t buy it, I’m missing this great deal! I forgot to ask myself if I actually wanted the product advertised, not to mention if I needed it. (No, and no.)

Our frenzied shopping cannot bring us happiness. Even worse, laborers at home and abroad, animals, and the environment suffer from our consumer culture. A significant percentage of municipal solid waste comes from packaging (14 million tons of plastic packaging in the United States alone, according to the EPA).

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t shop. I certainly am not saying I’m done with shopping. However, I resolve to be mindful about what I purchase. I hope you will, too. Please watch The Story of Stuff  so that you understand all that precedes and follows the act of consumption.


My iPhone arrived today. Unfortunately, the FedEx delivery person went to our back door which is our basement door and doesn’t have a door bell. Neither of us heard the knock, so we missed the delivery and had to go to the FedEx office after 5:00 to pick it up. I was afraid we wouldn’t make it since the truck wouldn’t back out of the garage due to the build up of ice, but George saved the day despite my nasty mood.

Isn’t it pretty? Even the packaging is sleek and elegant! Since I never talk on the phone, though, I’ve used it mostly for games!



First Unitarian Church’s Giant Recycling Sale

Picnik collage
Last weekend, the First Unitarian Society held the annual Giant Recycling Sale. This is the biggest and most important fundraiser of the year, and volunteers have spent the summer collecting and sorting material. There is an entire room for clothes, one for furniture, for books, electronics, crafts, housewares, and things I can’t remember. The first year we moved here, we donated a ton of items – all the things we realized we didn’t want or need after dragging them across the country. This year, I only had a small bag of books, some clothes, and a few miscellaneous geegaws.
Though I went to see if I could find some interesting furniture for the house, I ended up purchasing only some postcards and a few broken necklaces that had interesting beads. It was fun to see the variety of shoppers – a lot of college students but also some die-hard deal seekers. The strangest thing was seeing a young woman carry around and then purchase a dress I’d donated. At least I know it is getting a second life!

Ithaca Made

IthacaMade   Quite by accident, I found the new store, Ithaca Made. It’s located at 430 W. State Street, near Mama Goose and in the same storefront as Mimi’s Attic.

This is the kind of store I love – unique, local, mostly handmade gifts and accessories, with some clothing and herbal/ aromatherapy products as well. The store has been open only 2 or so weeks, so it’s likely new products will be added.

I got this darling pottery pig (made by Frog Hill Pottery). I also picked up some postcards from Spirit and Kitsch. I was going to give this Silk Oak stamp to Grandma (because it has a rabbit), but instead, I thought I’d keep it and stamp all the mail I send her. Normally, I don’t accept bags when I go shopping, but this bag with the Silk Oak raven was so amazing, I let the cashier pack my purchases in it.


It is a fun store, and I think it’s great for local residents, and perfect for visitors who want something “uniquely Ithacan” to take home. My only complaint – I like the logo graphic, but man, is it ever depressing! I don’t need to be reminded of Ithaca’s gloomy days of winter!

Like to Shop?

Are you a compulsive shopper like me? Or do you dread shopping and only do it when absolutely necessary? Regardless of how you feel about shopping, you can help me out by taking a very brief survey. I am on a new research project, and we are looking for survey participants. If you are interested and willing, please follow the link below to complete the survey. It should take no longer than five minutes–and you will be doing a huge favor for me!

Link to Survey