On Consumerism and Waste

I have never owned a stand mixer. It’s an easy thing not to own if you don’t bake a lot, honestly. I’ve been using the same hand-mixer for…20+ years? But I’m down to just the two basic attachments because those were the only ones I ever used and so the others disappeared. Now that I’m cooking more that hand-held mixer is getting a lot of use again and I find myself longing for a stand mixer when every recipe assumes you have one.

I also don’t have an electric kettle or even a kettle for the stove and I’ve been drinking tea a LOT lately. I just boil water in a small pot and make tea that way. I also don’t have a chopper for vegetables, I just use a knife and cutting board.

I’ve been thinking a lot specifically about these three things as I resist the urge to buy them every time I’m at TJMaxx. Mainly, there is a practical reason I don’t buy them. I don’t have space for more stuff in my kitchen.

Here’s the thing…space issues aside…there are ways I could justify by want or even by need. I mean, it’s less electricity to heat an electric kettle and cookie dough is way easier to mix with a stand mixer. And money isn’t so tight I can’t get at least the two smaller things if I really need/want them.

BUT! Should we? I’m really trying to think about consumerism deeply lately. Both in terms with the spending of money, but also in terms of creating waste. Everything I buy some day ends up in a landfill. I mean, let’s be honest. Maybe it ends up in Goodwill to be reused once or twice but somebody somewhere is just going to throw it away eventually. And lately it is really hard for me to buy something without then thinking about our landfill in town and how you can see it from our nice new Cross Country Course.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m still buy crap I can’t entirely justify. I just bought the kids new thermoses for soccer because they’re insulated which is so very important? I guess? When they actually have big insulated thermoses but those are too big? I don’t know. I feel like the majority of the shit I buy is because nothing is perfect for every moment. They need several different kinds of athletic water bottles for several different seasons of weather and types of athletic events. I probably have a case for insisting on ONE kind of water bottle FOREVER but I don’t. I let them convince me that they need a different kind for this one reason.

But I am at least trying to be aware of these type of things and try to think through in the future to the things that will last the longest and have the best long-term use possibilities.

I don’t know. Do you find yourself thinking about these kinds of things lately? Both in terms of environmental concerns and in terms of rampant consumerism that creates waste we are then stuck with?

7 thoughts on “On Consumerism and Waste”

  1. “I feel like the majority of the shit I buy is because nothing is perfect for every moment.” This is so true of me! Why can’t I have one pair of shoes that works for every occasion, one tote or day pack that suits every trip, and yes, one water bottle that is perfect in every way? It’s a fallacy, I know, but I do end up buying things that I don’t exactly need because I hope they will solve a problem that can’t be solved like that. Sigh. It’s hard.

  2. I bought a food chopper from my daughter’s school fundraiser. My husband was like, “what’s wrong with using a knife?” I rolled my eyes and bought it anyway. Most of the time I still used a knife. I ended up giving the chopper away when we recently moved. I do have a stand mixer that I inherited from my grandmother, but prior to that I always just used a hand mixer. If you watch baking videos on the Tasty app (which I do way too much), they always just use a hand mixer. It’s probably just easier to film, but still. Anyway, yes I do think about this stuff a lot. My husband more so than me though. He’d live in a hut with, like, a pocket knife if he could. Lol.
    I do wish gifting used items was more socially acceptable. I don’t mean just everyday, I mean for Christmas and birthdays. Most people would be horrified by that concept though. We must buy new! Why is that?

  3. Go ahead and get a kitchen aid stand mixer! I am using my husband’s grandmother’s that she left to us – it’s at least 60 years old, these things are built to last and won’t be waste in a landfill.

  4. I have very similar thoughts! One thing, ironically, is that I’ve wanted/needed more things as I’ve actively tried to be more eco-conscious and, specifically, tried to do more active non-car transportation. If I’m going to bike to work, I need this jacket that’s colorful and visible! Oh, but I need one version for the spring, and another one for the winter when it’s windy and rainy, and so on.

    For clothes (and I’ve some success even for active wear – e.g., I happened upon a fantastic biking-specific jacket that even has those zip-off sleeves) I’m trying really hard to only buy used, which occasionally is local thrift shops but mostly Thred Up (I realize there are some potential issues in how they treat consigners, but I definitely love being able to shop online and easily search and filter). So even if I’m buying way more running tank tops than I possibly needed, at least I’m fulfilling the mid stop between someone else’s discard an the landfill?

    Are you familiar with the Buy Nothing Project? Facebook groups set up for locations, so you can give and get from your neighbors.

  5. Yes I think about this more. I find it useful to have a list of things I might buy or replace, so I can track a few months down the line whether my habits have changed. If I buy something immediately, it is often the case that my “must have” item wasn’t really must have at all. Amazon Prime, which we had in December, is very bad for this habit. I have an amazon wish list for books I want, and direct friends to it around my birthday and Christmas. This helps avoid me getting lots of gloves (my birthday is in October so it’s a classic it’s getting colder present) or other things I don’t actually need and some friends regularly buy me second hand copies, which I should encourage more because a. good for the environment and b. cheaper for them.

  6. I am trying to switch my mindset to looking for things secondhand and getting rid of anything that isn’t essential, as well as not buying new. We will be downsizing our big house and I just can’t keep anything.

    (That said, I got a stand mixer as a wedding present 19 years ago this year and I still use it all the time. I use my electric kettle daily, sometimes twice a day. I even bring it with me on road trips. A chopping thing is a waste of space, knives & cutting boards are better. People sell stand mixers on Facebook Marketplace all the time for a fraction of the new cost.)

  7. Great subject! This is one of my resolutions for this year. When I need/want something, I have to try to find it USED first. I have to give it a really good effort. Then, if I can’t find it used, I can think about buying it new. But, I’m thinking that because of that self-imposed “waiting period”, I may end up just not wanting whatever it is, anyway! We’ll see. Good for you for giving it some thought, and for bringing awareness regarding our rampant consumerism in this country!

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