Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Conscientious Consumer

I was introduced to a new blogging term yesterday, meme. Wikipedia, the very pinnacle of reliable information, defines a meme as follows:

At its most basic, an Internet meme is simply the propagation of a digital file or hyperlink from one person to others using methods available through the Internet (for example, email, blogs, social networking sites, instant messaging, etc.). The content often consists of a saying or joke, a rumor, an altered or original image, a complete website, a video clip or animation, or an offbeat news story, among many other possibilities. An Internet meme may stay the same or may evolve over time, by chance or through commentary, imitations, and parody versions, or even by collecting news accounts about itself. It is spread organically and voluntarily on a peer-to-peer basis rather than by trickery, compulsion, predetermined path, or completely automated means.

Jennifer Neisslein posted this meme on her blog yesterday:

Here's how it works: post the directions on your blog, tell everyone who tagged you, answer the questions, and tag five or more people. That's it!

The purpose of this meme is to inspire some reflection about how we shop and what we purchase. The idea isn't that consumption itself is somehow bad, but that we all could probably stand to put a little bit more thought into what we buy. And, of course, it's supposed to be fun.

So here goes! Pick a recent shopping trip -- for clothes, shoes, groceries, doesn't matter. The only guideline is that it will be easier to play if you purchased at least a few things.

Now tell us, about your purchases:
1. What are you proud of?
2. What are you embarrassed by?
3. What do think you couldn't live without?
4. What did you most enjoy purchasing?
5. What were you most tempted by?
(This last one may or may not be an actual purchase!)

Given my recent obsession with my family's uncontrollable accumulation of stuff, I thought this would be a good exercise. The best version of myself is a conscientious consumer. I'm not the best version of myself yet but I hope to be soon. Here goes:

About my purchases:

  1. What are you proud of? The toys and clothes that I bought at yard sales last weekend. I put them in a storage bin and am saving them for Christmas.

  2. What are you embarrassed by? The number of Polo shirts hanging in my son's closet (why do I care so much about that damn horse?) To my credit, though, every one of them was bought at a consignment store or yard sale. I don't buy them new. It's still shameful. If I care then my son is going to care and I don't want that.

  3. What do you think you couldn't live without? My food processor. I love that thing.

  4. What did you most enjoy purchasing? The ingredients for a vanilla caramel cake that I made recently.

  5. What are you most tempted by? Anything with the word, "Clearance" written on it.

My grand conscientious consumer plans include more shopping at yard sales, doing my best to buy American made products—a REAL challenge, reusing and recycling everything and anything I can, purging myself and my family of wearable advertising (polos, GAP shirts, etc…), and shopping less at large retail chains. I have a long, LONG way to go.

Now, tell me about your purchases…


  1. After reading the meme about your frugal shopping habits, it becomes apparent that an expressive amount of your husband has rubbed off on you in the last 10+ years. With the garage sale-ing, and consignment store trips, you have graduated to a level of Halemanship that has been afore, been attained by few other than the core of the Hale clan. Now, if we can start decorating the house with used furniture and shabby-sheek antiques, you truly will be one of ours. Welcome, Oh learned One, to the enlightened side. If only we could get you to eat sole food.

  2. Thank you for clarifying exactly what a meme is for those of us too lazy to look it up ourselves. Since I'm just recovering from a recent meme on my blog, I hope you don't mind if I do a quick summary right here: I too had a Polo shirt fetish when my sons were younger that has morphed into a Lacoste one now (from ponies to alligators, always on sale!) Like you, I can't survive without my food processors (mini and maxi), and make a huge effort to buy American. I am most proud of, enjoy most and most tempted by anything with that ubiquitous "on sale" tag!

  3. This is a bit of subject, but what I was thinking about as I was watching Grey's, but I think I am going to start taking a post it note pad and a sharpie grocery shopping. Well, anywhere and start making comments. Like in the for instance Frosted Wheats by Kelloggs, I would put a note saying contains HFCS and Lays chips I would say contains, MSG.
    I would also put notes about say, are we going to continue to let the government lie- let the companies lie to us!! How much is enough!!!!
    My mom called me today, she was shopping w/ my oldest for jeans and a coat. She made the comment, oh this one is made in China, I didn't really think about that much b/f, but now- well, I am returning it. I don't trust it!!!!
    Ok, sorry for the tangents.