I heard about The Learning Channel program Extreme Couponing. While flipping channels last night, I caught the show. I was glad to see the couple who worked so hard to make almost a thousand dollar purchase for zero dollars. They gave it all to charity. The next show made me frown. A woman spent many hours and a huge effort to prepare to go to the grocery store. She got all diva’d up and dragged her husband with her. She pushed her husband to empty the shelf of mustard; more than 50 bottles. He then exclaimed, “I don’t even like mustard.” He had to leave to go to work. Then she put on more make-up and continued to shop. After 2 hours of checking out with the cashier manually entering the coupons: bill $1,902.63; cost $103.72. She took it all to their home. The next family had a house full of over 6,000 items stuffed under beds; in playrooms; bedrooms; special shelves and then some. She called her kids a litter. The family went shopping for carts full of processed foods and paper goods. The next featured family spent 7 hours in the store, even though they had over twenty thousand dollars value of stockpile at home. This family created eight transactions in order to purchase over three thousand dollars in items; all to be donated to charity. My frowned turned upside down.
Lots of stuff for free. In the land of the free, we are not really free; free has consequences. Hobbies turned into obsessions resulting in child labor and hoarding. Making kids cut coupons and push carts to shop for 130 boxes of couscous, which no one in the family had ever eaten: really? How can these families use all of the things they obtain? I don’t understand this lifestyle, but it is interesting… for about 60 minutes.
I support the use of coupons for items that are necessary for our health and vitality. There are many healthy foods that come in cans or bags and many body and cleaning products that are packaged. Anything in extreme excess is far removed from ordinary and far removed from being environmentally sound. The fact that American commercialism and consumerism provides the opportunity and basis for the television program is disturbing. I believe in saving money, but there are ways to save money and being less wasteful of natural resources. I cannot visualize the amount of trees destroyed and chemicals used to create the newspapers and advertisements from which the coupons were cut; the packages holding the items; the bags that carry the items; and the gas used to lug the weight of the purchases home. I can imagine my household environmental and monetary savings since we do not buy huge amounts of bottled drinks; boxed sweets; candy; cleaning products; or personal care products like the families featured on the program.
Fresh fruits and vegetables don’t come in a box. Products can be purchased for their intended uses that can be mixed to create multiple uses such as baking soda; olive and coconut oils; salt; and vinegar. Water from the tap is really inexpensive. Check out some recipes and discover how much you can save. We try not to spend too much and we stopped stockpiling items some time ago. There are many families who are much more conservative than us and we always try to reduce our footprints on this earth. I feel good about our progress over the last few years and recognize we can still do more. We have fun trying to find environmentally sound practices and products for our future dream green home….only in our dreams. Dreams do come true; right?