I thought of writing about this topic because I struggle sometimes while deciding on small purchases despite my awareness on the importance of being sustainable and economical. I think the most frustrating part is to convince myself and my family to buy less groceries or items that are on sale. It is ridiculous the amount of food that gets spoiled in the fridge in our house, or even fruits and vegetables that are purchased in duplicity due to lack of management.
From my own experience, I grew up believing that abundance was a positive thing, that having a lot of things meant status. The Chinese even keep the tradition of hosting lavish banquets where loads of food is served and most of the time result in leftovers (not take-aways). The etiquette in those situations even involves not finishing the dish on your plate to please the host, otherwise they would feel they didn’t prepare enough food for the guests.
I understand that debating about culture can get complicated and controversial, so the focus here is to make a reflection on the actual reason why people put so much importance on abundance and excessive consumerism. Why is it considered sophisticated to spend so many resources in order to keep a lifestyle? Why do we humans buy excessively and with no purpose?
We waste food, money and time on countless things and regret about them over and over. Any level of regret, for me, is somehow wasteful, regardless of one’s wealth. Even though consequences differ depending on one’s conditions, I believe that the core reason in only one, which is (lack of) self-esteem. Surely poor management and impulse may lead to abundance and waste, but at the end of the day, every person who is trapped in such vicious cycle is encountering some level of self doubt, need to be accepted by a group, frustration or anxiety – all related to self-esteem.
What does grocery shopping has to do with self-esteem? My theory is that this could be only one of the several symptoms one expresses when things aren’t going very well is their lives. This could be conscious or not, it’s just a matter of accepting the condition and taking time to evaluate your life as a whole and not just simply ignore it or believe that it will go away on its own. It is common to execute a task in attempt to withdraw or procrastinate from a dull task, and this is where major self-esteem issues hide.
I am not saying it’s easy to identify it, but it’s extremely important to pay attention to your feelings, actions and even to what people you trust tell you. And if you still can’t find what it is, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
In addition to the above, I’ve decided to discuss waste due to the growing awareness on sustainability and ways to live happier with less possessions. I hope we are able to produce less waste, and I trust that the starting point is to change our mindsets. However, we ought to believe in the importance of a cause before being able to actually change for the long term.