Consumerism & Minimalism

Banner with the text "Consumerism & Minimalism." Picture in the background is from a shopping mall. People are walking around, and there is a Christmas tree and various Christmas decorations

In light of Black Friday, this past week Team Kenan asked the Duke community about consumerism, minimalism and the items that ‘spark joy’ in their lives.

Some students struggled with how their different values coincided, with one stating: “I don’t think capitalism or consumerism are sustainable systems, but I still participate in them”. Others mentioned how they carefully balance between materialism and spirituality -which often disincentivizes greed.

Spirituality wasn’t the only considerations that students took into account when considering a purchase. “I like to buy local products to be more environmentally conscious, but I understand why people sometimes buy cheaper corporate product,” One student said. “I think that if you can afford it, it’s much better to buy locally.”

When asked about Marie Kondo, whose Netflix hit Tidying Up launched a trend of reducing clutter, many couch participants responded that they valued minimalism. However, they acknowledged that they found themselves unable to commit with responses like: “[Marie Kondo] is an interesting way of living, but I don’t think I can ever do it myself” and “I think we need some things in life that don’t bring us joy all the time”.

In the season most known for shopping, students reflected not only on the value of their purchases, but also their greater impact on the world.