The gilets jaunes have had an unexpected effect – they have forced me to reduce my shopping and it’s turned out to be a good thing.
It started a year ago when the roadblocks began in the lead-up to Christmas and I couldn’t get to our local “shopping village”.
The roads were jammed and, after 45 minutes in a stationary line, I turned round and went home without the wrapping paper, Brussels sprouts and the double cream that were on my list. These items weren’t available in the local shops so I never managed to buy them at all.
Several other shopping trips were also cancelled but – surprise, surprise – no one cared!
No one noticed any missing items. Our celebrations were perfectly festive with green beans, Greek yoghurt and last year’s wrapping paper. We didn’t actually need the items on my list.
It was a revelation and when I calculated the savings we’d made, it got me thinking about other things I might not bother buying.
The list was long! Now, as the year rolls into autumn/winter, I’m enjoying drying my own vegetable seeds, knitting my own scarf, hanging on to last year’s winter coat and doing without greaseproof paper, heavy-duty cleaning products and cotton buds, to name a few things I’ve given up buying. So much for going to real shops.
However, I confess to still shopping online. It saves litres of petrol, as well as wear and tear on the car, parking charges and all the rest. But it also means I can leave items in my virtual basket overnight, just to see if I really do still need them in the morning. Often I find I delete them before breakfast.
I know the logic that online shopping is selfish because it forces small local shops to close down, but the local shops near us don’t sell the English books and films I love.
Besides, I discovered local swap-shops and charity shops sell them second-hand.
The upshot is that I’m shopping less often and buying less when I do venture out.
Do I really need another T-shirt or can I just wear one of the many already in my wardrobe? Shall I invest in new bathroom taps, or just change the washers on the existing ones?
And I doubt I am the only one. Sales figures across France for the summer were down on last year so perhaps others too have changed their shopping habits thanks to the gilets jaunes.
And, if we all consume a little less, throw less away, in the long run wouldn’t it be better for the environment and therefore not so selfish after all?