When I was a teenager, there was only one place to meet up with friends: the mall, of course! We'd catch up on gossip, walk around, have lunch, and absently make some purchases as we went. It was an enjoyable time, but my closet kept getting fuller. I'd purge the things, and it would fill up again. Not exactly compatible with a lower-waste lifestyle.
So why do we recreationally shop? The mall is a place to spend time with friends, and it is much more interesting than sitting in the living room. It's a place to have a mothers' night out. Shopping is a great way to release stress. We've all indulged in "retail therapy" at some point or another.
We know that voluntary simplicity is not about self-deprivation, so how can we meet these needs without accumulating more unnecessary garbage?
1. Have a clothing exchange party.
This probably won't work if you already are a minimalist, but if you have some clothing that is still nice, you might enjoy trading with some of your friends. You do all need to be the same (or close to the same) size.
2. Go thrift-store shopping.
This will satisfy your desire to search, but, due to the time it takes to search, you won't go home with nearly as much.
3. Go to an antique store for the same reason.
Also, it is perfectly acceptable to leave one of these stores empty-handed. Antiquing is all about the journey.
4. If you want to walk and catch up with your friends, go to a walking trail.
If it's winter, try cross-country skiing. You will be getting exercise and still able to carry on a conversation in a venue that is much more interesting that someone's living room.
5. Have a craft night with your friends.
You may find that you enjoy a new hobby. In order to prevent your creations from cluttering your home, consider selling them, giving them as gifts, or donating them to a charity.
6. Plan and make a fancy dinner with your friends.
It's less expensive (and healthier) than eating out, it creates less waste, and it is a chance for you and your friends to use your creativity and problem-solve together.
Once you get started centering your social get-togethers on shared activities, rather than shared consumption, the possibilities are limitless!
Are you interested in living a simpler lifestyle but don't know where to start? Then, my Simple Living Basics Interactive E-Course is perfect for you. You will join a community of people who are working to simplify, and there are many discounts available for a limited time. The course starts July 1.
In the meantime, check out my Minimalist Lifestyle: Getting Started self-paced e-course. For only $12, it is a bargain, and a great introduction to the format and style of all my e-courses.