Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not Buying It

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine was more interesting as a place to start a conversation with my children about our buying habits rather than as a book that might give me some useful hints. It was, in some ways, a ridiculous book. The author and her partner do have three cars as well as two residences, and they live in New York City, which immediately makes them suspect. There are a lot of political and literary references in the book, since the author makes her living freelancing articles on popular culture affecting imtimate lives.

Most of her experiment struck me as silly. She misses seeing first run movies. We always check things out from the library. She complains about the library. She misses eating out because they eat out all the time. She has three different kinds of salt in her cabinet. There ARE three different kinds of salt?

We're thinking about doing this experiment in our home. It's lead to interesting conversations. When asked what they would miss buying, my 14 year old said "Socks and underwear". The ten year old worried about school supplies. We agreed that those were necessary consumables. My son would miss buying Super Smash Brothers for Wii, but that was a joke, because he wouldn't get it anyway. A lenghthy discussion was had about whether or not postage stamps were a thing or a service.

In a way, this book was great, because it started these conversations. However, since we are debating whether or not Aldi's granola bars are a luxury (they are), and how we can break it to Grandma and Grandpa that we will no longer go out to eat on birthdays (about the only time we do eat out), they scope of this didn't speak to me on my level.

Also read The Fattening of America: How the Economy Makes Us Fat by Eric Finkelstein, and thought it was well done and insightful. When I couldn't quite grasp the economic theory because children wanted my attention, I could fall back on his explanations of how it affected his Uncle Al, who was a humanizing example throughout.

I really have to go back to YA literature instead of reading "preaching to the choir" books on life style choices!

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