Tuesday, October 23, 2007

conscious consumer

I'm feeling very much the conscious consumer these days, especially after our car-buying episode last week. When we left off, I was about to go buy a car, in the hopes that it would be like buying an appliance. Well, it sort of was and it sort of wasn't. Here's the short version: we went to CarMax, drove three cars, and bought the last. It was a fine little car, a bit over our budget but still affordable. And then we returned it.

Here's the conscious consumer part: we chose a used car on the theory that building a new car eats up a lot of resources, so if we could find an efficient (enough) used car we'd be doing the environment a favor. Makes sense, right? Besides, the whole point of selling the last car was to reduce expenses. But because we'd spent more money than we meant to, we began to experience almost immediate buyer's remorse. And... we have a neighbor with three cars. For years Mark has been asking if he wanted to sell us one--he is a meticulous maintenance guy, so we know it would be a good car. So when the buyer's remorse hit (and it hit pretty hard, though the car did look cute parked right out in front of the house) Mark went over to ask--again--if maybe he had a car to sell. And for once, he did. Not right now, but in about a month. And for much, much less than CarMax wanted for their (to be fair) much newer car.

It felt like a sign. Or at least a big relief.

So, after two days, we took advantage of the CarMax 5-day no questions asked return policy, and returned the car. And it took about 15 minutes (plus the drive, alas!).

All in all, an interesting experiment in conscious consumerism.

Now here are the rules for the meme (you've already seen this here and here and here...I'm late to the party!):
Pick a recent shopping trip -- for clothes, shoes, groceries, doesn't matter. The only guideline is that it will be easier to play if you purchased at least a few things.

Now tell us, about your purchases:

1. What are you proud of?
2. What are you embarrassed by?
3. What do think you couldn't live without?
4. What did you most enjoy purchasing?
5. What were you most tempted by? (This last one may or may not be an actual purchase!)


This is a grocery store trip from last week. Unlike Caroline, I go to the grocery store pretty often. Sometimes almost daily. I often go early in the morning, at about 7:30, right after I drop Mariah at her bus--it's less crowded, and the day-old bakery items are worth a look. I had a grocery list with me, but as usual I bought a lot of stuff I hadn't put on the list. Here's what I brought home:

  • one box Annie's mac-n-cheese (we were gong out to dinner that night and it's a good bet for Nick when we're not home)
  • one can Bustelo decaf espresso
  • two cans full circle (local organic brand) organic black beans
  • one box full circle golden flax cereal
  • one large facial sponge
  • one reusable shopping bag
  • one box frozen crispy mini tacos
  • one package boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 large lemons
  • 2 packages chocolate chip bagels (thrift items)
  • 2 packages pita bread (thrift items)

So: I'm proud of the cereal. Mariah discovered recently that she likes it, and since she's experimenting with being vegan, I'm all about making sure she gets the nutrients she needs. Flax seeds provide omega-3 oils, more commonly found in fish. Yay.

I'm a little embarrassed by the reusable shopping bag, since I already have two (and two reusable bins, supplied by this very store) that I had forgotten to bring. But for a buck, I figured we could use a third one. And I am now trying to remember to store them in the car.

I couldn't live without the decaf. I love the taste of coffee but not the effects of caffeine, and this brand is relatively inexpensive and delightfully strong. Yum.

I'm not sure I enjoyed purchasing any one thing on this list more than any other. Mostly, I like going to the store in the morning. Most of the cashiers know me--by sight if not by name--and we chat a little over the thrift purchases and such and it feels a bit like home. That particular morning there was a not-too-muzaky remake of REM's "Rockville" playing, and it made me feel nostalgic.

I was tempted (this is so boring!) by various fancy face washes, and I had run out, but I didn't buy any because I wanted to check out what Mariah had. She used to inherit my castoffs (clothes, makeup, random cosmetic items) and now I inherit some of hers. Payback time!

So that's it for my conscious consumption. I'll tag anyone else who wants to play--and stay tuned, since Caroline just tagged me with a new meme!

1 comment:

Chris W. said...

Hey MidLife Mama! My name is Chris and I am the social media PR guy at CarMax. I am glad you were a CarMax customer, even if it were for a few days. I am also pleased that the 5-day retun policy was able to help you. I hope more of your friends will stop by CarMax and find that it's true when we say it's the way car-buying should be!