I have become a good green girl. Whenever possible, I combine my errands, so as to minimize car trips. A visit to the hairdresser yesterday, became the perfect opportunity to stop by Bloomingdale‘s next door, to replenish my supply of Clinique makeup. I rarely go to the mall now, and when I do, it is no longer a source of temptations and excitement, as was the case not too long ago. I have watched The Story of Stuff, and I am a conscious consumer.
I was on a mission, and went straight to the Clinique counter. I was going to buy some foundation and blush. The blush, I really needed, was down to the last bit. The foundation, I still had half of a bottle. I debated for a second, then decided against buying more. And bought just the blush. Preempting the sales lady with a “And no bag please”. Dropped the small box into my purse, and started walking out. I felt weird, leaving just like that. I was in the mall, after all. Wasn’t I supposed to shop? I felt the pressure, the slight pull. No, the desire had left me. I was going to walk straight back to my car.
That is, until I caught a whiff of . . . a smell so pleasant and so intoxicating. It made me want to linger. My nose could not get enough of the stuff. Had I not been thinking about what was going on, I would have stopped and turned left, into the nearby Abercrombie store. I had smelled the scent many times before, whenever I had gone shopping in the store. The Abercrombie people have it down to a science. I’ve got to admit. They nearly got me, once more.
I drove home mad. Mad, for having nearly been tricked. Another case of Not So Green Exposure, I thought. This one, so subtle though, that it was all the more potent and dangerous. I started to question the notion of freedom in a consumerist world. As much as I like to fancy myself as a free individual, the truth is my environment won’t let me. I remembered an interview, last year, on NPR Marketplace, between Kay Ryssdal and Benjamin Barber, when the two discussed Barber’s book, ‘Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole‘. Benjamin Barber, a political theorist, professor at the University of Maryland, blogger at Strong Democracy Blog and the Huffington Post, and principal member of the Democracy Collaborative, is one of the leading thinkers on capitalism and democracy.
This morning, Benjamin Barber wrote a very thought-provoking article in the Huffington Post. I urge you to read it. His question to presidential candidates is right on:
‘how do you suggest we get out of recession without getting into trouble? Without encouraging all those bad habits of too much spending, too little savings, too much foreign energy dependency and too much borrowing that have gotten us into our economic morass to begin with? How do we create a prosperous economy that does not depend on Americans buying not only more than they can afford, but far more than they need or want!?
Whoever can answer that question — or even understand it! — gets my vote.’