So much of how I was raised to make decisions came about from money. We didn’t have it, so it impacted how my family shopped. I was the youngest, so I never really had clothes that were feminine since I had an older brother (except from my best friend who was taller than me and got all her older sisters hand me downs and I got her clothes when she grew out of them). I owned lots of piping hot stuff and the year I got a bike for christmas stays strongly in my memory as one of the times I got something new that was all my own.
Perhaps that’s why when I got a bit of a disposable income as a teenager I started collecting: cds, books, records, and loads of fast fashion or band t shirts. But nothing big: no big purchases – just instant jolt impulse buys.
But now I’m reevaluating my spending priorities, but money still impacts my choices. And my families choices too.
I was with my Mum the other day and she mentioned that she’d stopped buying the eco recyclable fair trade pods for her coffee machine. I asked her why: she said she couldn’t justify spending so much more on those pods over the other ones. She wanted to buy them, but it was too much for her budget. In this moment, her ability to contribute the way she wanted was held by her income. She wanted to buy the others, but there wasn’t enough money and when she had to make a choice she went with the other. She wasn’t prepared to do without, so she compromised her values.
About 6 years ago I stopped dying my hair. I started going grey when I was a teenager, but now it’s in full swing. I still look mostly like a brunette, but there’s significant streaks of grey showing through these days. Not dying my hair has positive ecological consequences – not putting dye into the water steams, not using the chemicals on my scalp, plastic packaging too I guess. But the reason I stopped? Money. I couldn’t afford the $150 or so to dye my hair, so when I cut it short I stopped colouring it. Now I’m happy I stopped because I value the ecological reasons to not dying my hair, but that was not the motivating reason behind my decision.
None of any of our choices are made in a vacuum. I hope that as I continue cutting down my waste the times I make an initial investment (my razor comes to mind) it will eventually balance out financially over time. But I know there are going to be times where I can’t do what I want in line with my values due to financial reasons. Especially this year: the reason I decided this year would be the #nobuynew year was because I was broke from studying and it seemed like good timing initially.
Of all of that to say, I’m still actually quite sure that the largest impact from these choices will be a benefit financially, a benefit for my health, but the changing attitude and recognising why I make a decision is important as well. Self-reflection and learning more about myself should never be discounted as something that doesn’t matter.