“We are a society of consumers, we’re told. We shrug and nod and accept this as a fundamental truth.” Annie Leonard in The Story of Stuff
Do you also sometimes wonder how it’s possible to save money whilst spending it? I’m talking about those adverts on TV that tell us we get a discount if we spend a certain amount or those 3 for 2 offers in the supermarket. Wouldn’t I be better off by not buying this stuff in the first place? How often do I really need a new TV or sofa when I’m sitting on a sofa watching adverts on a TV about TVs and sofas on sale? Argh! And in the supermarket, unless I consume this product regularly, why would I get three of it? In either case, it’s not about whether we need this product or not, it’s just about the act of purchasing it. To make us buy, companies tell us that we save money when we spend it.
When I watch TV adverts I often ask myself what desires, aspirations, worries or fears they are appealing to? How are they trying to convince me to buy the advertised product? Some of the most abstract are the perfume adverts, clearly appealing to our desires and aspirations, but the gap between those and reality couldn’t be bigger. Car adverts fall into the same category, particularly for SUVs. How often do we really drive off road? But it’s sale adverts that annoy me the most. Why do they always need to shout at us: HURRY! BUY NOW! SALES ENDS ON MONDAY!
When watching sale adverts, I often think of the piles of waste that are generated by replacing perfectly good stuff with a newer version. But we don’t see how all these products are made, how many materials and how much energy goes into producing them. And we don’t see what happens with it after we have disposed it. It’s easy to forget that the bin is not a magic portal that makes our waste disappear.
In the end, we truly save the most by not spending money on stuff we don’t really need in the first place. By doing so, we also save resources and energy, ultimately preventing environmental degradation, greenhouse gases emissions and the accumulation of these resources on landfills and in the environment.