Zero Waste Wednesday: Alternatives to Recreational Shopping

When I was a teenager, there was only one place to meet up with friends: the mall, of course! We’d catch up on gossip, walk around, have lunch, and absently make some purchases as we went. It was an enjoyable time, but my closet kept getting fuller. I’d purge the things, and it would fill up again. Not exactly compatible with a lower-waste lifestyle.

So why do we recreationally shop? The mall is a place to spend time with friends, and it is much more interesting than sitting in the living room. It’s a place to have a mothers’ night out. Shopping is a great way to release stress. We’ve all indulged in “retail therapy” at some point or another.

We know that voluntary simplicity is not about self-deprivation, so how can we meet these needs without accumulating more unnecessary garbage?

–Have a clothing exchange party. This probably won’t work if you already are a minimalist, but if you have some clothing that is still nice, you might enjoy trading with some of your friends. You do all need to be the same (or close to the same) size.

–Go thrift-store shopping. This will satisfy your desire to search, but, due to the time it takes to search, you won’t go home with nearly as much.

–Go to an antique store for the same reason. Also, it is perfectly acceptable to leave one of these stores empty-handed.

–If you want to walk and catch up with your friends, go to a walking trail. If it’s winter, try cross-country skiing.

–Have a craft night with your friends.

–Plan and make a fancy dinner with your friends.

What are some other ways you socialize without bringing home more stuff?

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