Buy what you need — more learnings

am learning another way to buy things while living here in Mexico for a time. Given my desires toward minimalism, this is a good lesson.

In the US, it is clear that more is better, more is more, things are meant to be bought in great quantity and will make us happy. Of course, people with means spend frivolously in every country and culture, I am sure. But in the US, it’s the norm and despite the growing wealth inequality, more people have means than they do in Mexico or many other places.

In the US, there is the Cult of Costco. Stock up! Need olive oil? Buy a gallon. TP? 24 rolls. Paper towels? 12-pack. And of course you have a big house to store it in, don’t you? At least 1,500 square feet per person, right? You should have cabinets enough for all that stuff.

Here, I went in to the local stationer and asked for envelopes. The clerk came back with a box of envelopes, already open, and asked me how many I wanted. My husband went to buy some string to tie up plants, a large roll was produced and he was asked how much he wanted. Rope? Same thing. Need cold medicine? The clerk will cut the number of pills you want from the blister-pack behind the register. Need to wrap a holiday gift but don’t want to store rolls of wrapping paper? No worries, you can just buy one sheet of Christmas wrap. Groceries? Buy what you need. One stick of butter, a few eggs, a few potatoes. Flour or sugar? One kilo bags. Shopping doesn’t consist of cart-loads of groceries.

One thing that makes this work is walkability. When you can walk to stores readily, there is no need to stock up and make your house a storage unit. Grateful we live in a walkable neighborhood here in Mexico, and in Oregon too.

So I don’t have a box of envelopes sitting around that might seal themselves shut in the humid season before I get a chance to use them. Feels right. Feels smart.

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2 thoughts on “Buy what you need — more learnings

  1. Wayne

    I met a man in Puerto Vallarta who owned a small corner shop selling some food and sundry items. He spoke excellent English and was very versed in U.S. history, geography, etc although he’d never visited the U.S. (He longed to visit Montana) I saw him several times for great conversations about politics and culture of our countries. As we talked occasional customers came in to buy things. Sale quantities were typically very small, two cigarettes, one roll of toilet paper, a pencil, two tomatoes, four eggs, which were carried out in a small plastic bag, one bottle of beer… I thought of this as economic issue in a country where the average worker makes less than $10/day rather than one of minimalism. But now I’m thinking differently about it.
    Those huge shopping carts piled high coming out of Walmart are not a good thing.

    Like

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