Thursday, August 31, 2006

Buying It

I’m at “Stuff,” the local and trendy consignment shop in town. “Stuff” is so trendy, in fact, that it sports four locations in the area, houses a coffee shop in one of them, and sells children’s easels for a whopping $19.99—the same price you would pay at Target. But not all their stuff is overpriced. For example, the very-new looking, two-toned hot pink Converse baby high-tops in Evvy’s (almost) size were $2.49 (with the day’s 25% discount special on clothing).

My eyes leapt to the converse shoes on the baby shoe shelf immediately. They were the prettiest, cleanest, newest pair there, and I thought of my good girl, Kate (another stay-at-home mommy), and her two children who are consistently bedecked in Chuck Taylors.

“Look, Ev. These are like Emma’s shoes!” I said with excitement that Evvy reacted to.

“Emma’s shoes. Emma’s shoes. On.” She lifted a foot.

I checked the size. Half a size larger than the shoes Evvy just started wearing--the ones with extra growing room, the ones I bought for full price at Stride Rite. I put the All Stars on Ev. They were too big in the length, and there’s no telling whether her foot would slim down enough to fit into a regular width in sixth months. Still, she loved them (I loved them), and I thought: They’re only three bucks. Of course we’d get them.

I paid and left with the spoils of my plunder, and it’s then that I felt my first wave of guilt, thanks to Judith Levine’s new book Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, in which Levine discusses the concept of our ecological “footprints.”

Ecological footprint: In square miles, how much of the earth’s resources will I use up in my lifetime?

Or: In baby shoes, how much of my money will I spend in a lifetime? It occurs to me that the hot pink, very cool Chuck Taylor All Stars might be a complete waste, since Evvy might never actually wear them.

“You’re worried about three dollars?” you might ask. Two forty-nine to be exact. I’m worried, yes--because I make far too many Converse-baby-high-top sorts of purchases: The items are always cheap, always cute, and never (or under) utilized.

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