10 December 2014

Fighting for Minimalism

I've lived in apartments in New York City for the past 25 years, and that means keeping possessions to a relative minimum unless I want to pay for storage for stuff that I then won't be able to use ... because, well, it's across town in storage.

Today, I ran across the Haters Guide to the Williams Sonoma Catalogue, which includes this gem:
The Williams-Sonoma catalog will not rest until you need a separate pot for every single goddamn thing you make.
For a while, I owned a crock pot that I'd found in my building's recycling area, with a note promising, "it works!" Since I'm either home all day or out for fifteen hours, I never left the thing unattended, and eventually I came to the conclusion that I could cook more efficiently in -- gasp -- a normal pot on the stove.

By that time I'd moved, twice, paying movers to schlep that crock pot down five flights, up four, back down the same four, and up three. In the last move, I finally after nearly 25 years in New York City moved to an elevator building, but still.

In the end, the crock pot ended up at the Salvation Army. Maybe now some other poor soul is using it based on the promise of better meals than you can make with a normal pot on a normal stove.

But the thing about Black Friday and Cyber Monday and our consumer-driven society in general is that, with the exception of kids moving out on their own, people pretty much already own all the pots they need. And so Williams Sonoma, and for that matter Walmart, need to persuade you that you need MORE pots in your kitchen.

If they can find a way to sell you DISPOSABLE kitchenware, for instance single-use roasting pans or pie pans, then they've hit the jackpot.

It takes WORK to avoid advertising. I regularly make phone calls to get people to stop sending catalogues, but one on-line purchase can mean another whole pile of them. I've installed ad-blocker on my PC, but I still see advertising on my iPad. And internet advertising is a special horror:it takes extra discipline not to click through to the next web site, and the next.

Everyone wants me, or rather my limited amount of disposable income. Another pot, a better cleaning product, another sweater, a new pair of socks, a better health plan. I'm constantly fighting the capitalist barrage of advertising trying to persuade me that I need another item.

And budget considerations aside, it's an environmental issue. How do you fight the good fight?