This past weekend I went to Ikea to purchase tea cups for a tea party I’m hosting. I figured since my husband and I seem to be breaking almost all the glasses we have, owning ceramic mugs may do us some good. I haven’t been to Ikea in a few years. Now that I’ve become conscious of how ridiculous American consumerism is, this shopping experience was extremely overwhelming.
The only reason I chose Ikea over all the other retailers was because there was no other place I could find $0.29 stackable tea cups. I decided to my money toward organic food and tea for the party instead of expensive party settings. It seemed to make sense at the time, but now I’m not so sure.
So here I am on a Sunday, the busiest shopping day of the week, walking into Ikea. Although there was a greeter at the entrance offering a pleasant welcome, I was a bit uneasy with what I was about to witness. I stepped onto the escalator knowing I’m entering a consumer warehouse and absentmindedly thinking I’m going to pick up these tea cups and be at the cashier in less than ten minutes.
The place was packed with couples and families bombarding the isles with carts and shopping bags. Even though I was only looking for the tea cups I saw online, I ended up in ashowroom maze watching everyone ooh and ahh over how beautifully everything was decorated and talk amongst each other about it. Here was an example of the average person owning more than they needed still on the prowl for more to fill up any extra space possible.
I got lost in the showroom which was set up exactly for that purpose, and had to ask an employee where I could find glasses and mugs. I had to turn a few corners before finding the stairs to take me to where I needed to go. As soon as I found the tea cups I was looking for, I noticed that I was also interested in seeing what else Ikea had to offer. For a moment I under the influence of great prices and pretty colors. I snapped out of it, put the cups in the shopping bag, and proceeded to make my way to the cashier lines.
In Ikea everything related to table settings were at the bottom of the showroom stairs. I still had to walk through linens, pillows, bathroom amenities, organizational bins and storage supplies, lighting, artwork, chairs, plants, then the warehouse section where you pick up the furniture boxes of what you liked in the showroom. I was guarding my tea cups close to my body while I passed impatient shoppers in carts and wailing children.
Finally I’m in line. I then observed a man in another line come over to my line to check out all the bargains along the cashier isles. First he picked up a wok for $4.99 that he took over to his wife for approvel. Then he brought it back. Next he found a small $1.99 broom and dustpan for his wife to look at. He brought that back too. They already had a full cart, but some reason it was as if he couldn’t resist just one more great buy.
I made it out of Ikea with only the tea cups I had intended to buy, without the cute but cheap quality bedspread or throw pillows I noticed along the way. The truth is that I was no better than anyone in Ikea as I was shopping and consuming myself. Yet this was the first time that I really watched the process of how bad American consumerism is up close from a minimalist perspective at a grand scale.
I couldn’t help but think about who really needed new two tone dishes, a chesnut brown dresser, a new black computer desk, a floral duvet cover, a mahogany coffee table, or whatever? Were we replacing cheap pieces of furniture and home accessories with new cheap pieces of furniture and home accessories? Becoming more minimalist has created a solid perspective to how much is enough for me. I’m always on the search for more that I can let go of and do without. I’m currently noticing my guitar that I haven’t picked up in a few years and still haven’t learned to play. Hmm? Minimalism certainly isn’t a one time declutter session or even one year session for some. This is truly a lifestyle that has opened my eyes. The journey continues.
(Image by Ikea.com)