I believe that many people face a consumption problem that they don’t recognize, just as I do. For the majority of my life, my understanding of consumption remained limited to diet; I thought it was confined to what a person physically eats. Consumption is actually defined as the using up of a resource, and people utilize a lot more than just food. In the clothes we manufacture or the media we binge, there are many appearances of consumption in our lives.
Fast fashion, producing clothing pieces with the purpose of wearing them for a week, is a sign of our overconsumption. Yet, people justify their unneeded purchases. A common excuse for buying unnecessary clothing is that if people donate clothes they don’t wear, it is okay. While theoretically, this would allow the piece to still be utilized, I found that that isn’t how donating usually works. Last summer, I worked at Goodwill as someone that helped organize the store. Because there was a continuous flow of donations being brought into the store each day, I was told I had to make room for them. So, nearly everyday I either broke dozens of glass cups or tossed piles of t-shirts into a machine to create more space in the store for the new donations. In front of the customers, this process was termed “salvaging” to disguise the reality that most items were really just being thrown out.
In working at Goodwill, I saw, as tempting as it may be, there isn’t a justification for overconsumption. I knew consumption to be apparent in another facet of my life. Social media is a constant flow of information I take in and often don’t integrate into my life. More than I was happy to admit, I checked platforms without even knowing the purpose of my going there. I would watch an Instagram TV show, mindlessly, retain nothing, and continue on. Even more, I’d recognize this, and still do it again the next day. So, after understanding the people in the Goodwill often made excuses to protect their consumption problems, I finally saw how I did that myself. For years, I would say I would delete my Instagram account, because of my personal dissatisfaction, but never did. Seeing this, I finally deleted my Instagram account and it felt freeing.
Reflecting on my experiences with consumption, I believe being mindful is incredibly important in making the most out of IMSA and not spoken about enough. There are mountains of resources that are available. Opportunities for SIR, classes, or clubs all are very tempting and useful, but sadly, there is not room for it all. So, it is important to have clear reasons why a particular pursuit is chosen. The reason can be as simple as you want, to have fun, to learn, that is all up to preference, but I believe one reason should always be the opportunity to develop the interest so it can continue even after IMSA. Beyond the demands of what other people are doing, be mindful of the time and desires you have so what you have chosen is kept rather than “salvaged.”