I love shopping.
I didn’t realize until recently how much of an emotional experience shopping is for me. Last September, after a difficult breakup, I went on a weeks-long shopping binge. I didn’t just buy clothing and stuff either. That small stuff can add up, but I was getting into the big stuff, too, like furniture, outdoor equipment, nice linens…
I needed something to control, something to accomplish, something to have power over. I needed to make a decision that wasn’t about my life but about this shirt or about redecorating my house. I needed to feel empowered, and I felt I deserved the material things I wanted since the actual life things I wanted weren’t working out.
But even on good days, I just love the feeling of having something new. I like the excitement of bringing something home and trying it out. (Getting something in the mail makes it even more exciting. Darn you, Amazon.)
Besides to cope with emotions or for the fun of having something new and exciting, the thing I shop for most frequently is convenience. It is always easier and more fun in the short term to buy something new than to fix or update something old. But these crazy buy nothing friends of mine have inspired me to suppress the primal part of my brain that longs for ease, comfort and new, shiny stuff. So I’m here to tell you about some recent items I fixed instead of replaced.
A note: this did first require me to purchase some superglue.
A piece of my wallet has been gradually coming off over the last four months or so. Buying a new wallet is especially fun due to the built-in opportunity to reorganize the contents. But I had just bought this wallet a few months before. It had surely not lasted its full lifespan. It’s also hard for me to find a wallet with enough slots that’s organized in a way that makes sense to me and that I like. So I told myself I could browse the wallet section when I was already in a store and buy a new one only if it was the most perfect wallet I have ever found. Until then, I would deal with my broken one.
Months later it was about to break all the way when, standing in the checkout line of the grocery store (they got me..) I saw some superglue. Solution! I can keep this wallet I like without spending money on a new wallet I really don’t need. And it worked beautifully. My wallet is fixed.
I didn’t have other specific projects in mind for the superglue but liked the idea of having some around. The other night I got sad about the shape of some sandals in my closet faithfully trying to last through their third summer with me. The sole is coming up, one of the heels fell off and the fabric is fraying in some places. I decided these sandals could be worn no more and was about to throw them out when I remembered. My superglue!
I got it out and fixed up my sandals, trimmed the frayed fabric and fixed up a pair of falling apart flats while I was at it.
They don’t look good as new, but each of these pieces will last me much longer now and help me avoid buying new things. It’s more than just avoiding the individual purchases, though. It’s denying the compulsion and avoiding the temptations of Target, Amazon and the mall. It’s rewiring my brain. It’s practicing the habits of sustainability and intentionality rather than thoughtlessly surrendering to my lizard brain. It’s recentering on the truth that I have all that I need and more and rejecting the zeitgeist’s lie that there’s always something newer and better that I must have. It’s healthy and important.
So consider pausing next time you throw an item away. At the very least, can it be donated or recycled rather than added to the landfill pile? Even better, can it be fixed, updated or repurposed? You can use my superglue 🙂