I’ve been struggling a little bit with my sense of self in the past few weeks, not the usual mother-guilt and self doubt that most people have every now and then… but more my practical sense of self. Who am I separate from the things I consume? It seems to be part of the process for me… a subtle yet important redefinition of self. I’m not talking about some of the more traditional methods of consumption either. I’m not talking about fashion or cosmetics or homewares. But consumption within the market economy with which you identify. Even the “simple living” economy is it’s own consumer niche. I’ve started reading further into the blogosphere trying to get a handle on this idea… where blogs that preach simplicity and chasing the good life also push product. Because it doesn’t matter who you are, there is a product designed just for you.
I might not be in the niche for high fashion or top end cosmetics, but I certainly fall right into the niche of sustainable kitchenware, metal straws, bench top composters, high pressure canning kits, ethically made sandals, organic household goods (may be on the top of my amazon search lists right now)… whilst I can’t buy these things (and so many more), they are symbols of a market economy all of their own.
This project is forcing me more and more to reassess my own behaviours and bad habits. To look further inside and to find out where some of this urge to consume is really coming from. Is it a need to fit in? (Yes, I’m sure it is). The way we perform the self is an important element of the human experience. But can we avoid consumer conformity and still fit in?
And can we go without shaving our legs?
See… I’ve just run out of plastic razors. I’ve been doing a bit of research on plastic razors and the sheer amount of them that are estimated to be polluting the earth in landfill. So I’m not really keen on purchasing more. But then… I’m getting pretty hairy and I don’t know if I love that either (I really don’t). I’ve started running pretty thin on most of my bathroom and cleaning products and I’ve started to experiment with homemade products more and more. Bicarb soda, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, lemon and coconut oil seem to be the only ingredients I need for cleaning both body and home. Bicarb soda is perhaps the best kids shampoo ever. It doesn’t sting. It’s so easy to use and easy to rinse out. Ok, so it doesn’t have a bright green dinosaur on the packaging like the one we have always bought in the past and it doesn’t create great bubbles that smell like fake fruit salad in the bathtub. But it works…
I’ve been meaning to set up a clothes swap in my local area. I don’t know many people here and my confidence has taken a big hit in the past so I’m a bit slow to reach out these days. I’m a member of a local group and I’m trying to encourage myself to get more and more involved. To ask for help (like borrowing air matresses for guests) and to get involved more with the great people who live around us. One member of this group suggested a clothes swap yesterday and I was excited to jump on board. I’m starting to realise that this project is not just a commitment to myself and my own ethics but a commitment to other people to.
Because it’s impossible to do it alone.
Kind of like motherhood. Sometimes we just have to open ourselves up to others… so we don’t go insane.