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Columbia University sign in subway station in NYC

Columbia University sign in subway station in NYC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every year we go away on relaxing girls’ weekend with an extraordinary group of women. This year two of the women started an experiment that I found fascinating. They decided not to purchase anything for themselves for a whole year except an occasional pair of shoes (or when their Under Armour‘s wear out).

Their experiment comes from their belief that we have become a nation of consumption. These women question do we really need all the things we have? Moreover, what type of lesson are we teaching our children through constant consumerism. Like the song the children’s artist Raffi sings “All I really need is a song in my heart, food in my belly and love in my family”.

This also reminds us of the movie “The Story of Stuff” which asks”how much do we really need from an environmental perspective”. Many of us watched the movie with our children last year and reduced, recycled and reused.

We find this anti-consumerism trend personally compelling because our Great Grandfather Paul Nystrom founded the philosophy of futility as a marketing professor at Columbia University in 1925. Per Wikipedia, The Philosophy of futility is a phrase coined to describe the disposition caused by the monotony of the new industrial age. Nystrom observed the natural effect of this malaise was seeking gratification found in frivolous things, such as fashionable apparel and goods. This tendency, he theorized, could be used to increase consumption of fashionable goods and services, resulting in a vicious circle of dissatisfaction and the desire for new consumer goods.

As moms, we need to feel that we are accomplishing great tasks and sometimes it is hard when dishes, diner, laundry and carpools almost drown us.  Has shopping become our escape? We can’t wait to learn more about our friend’s journey to avoid consumerism and what they discover along the way.  What do you think? Could you do the same for a year?

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