During my gap year/spiritual journey in 2011-2012, I found the dharma talks given by Ching Kung master (a Chinese Buddhist monk) so enriching that I didn’t feel like reading anything secular, except for teaching purpose (like the poems and short stories covered in the syllabus of HKDSE English Literature).
During that period of time, it was kind of a guilty pleasure for me to buy this book called Bonjour, Happiness. To be honest, I didn’t even need this book, as I considered myself quite qualified as a French in most aspects of my lifestyle. If it doesn’t cover anything that I don’t know already, why did I buy it?
Well, I spent half an afternoon reading in an air-conditioned, well-lit and spacious bookstore, so it would be morally wrong to walk out of it without leaving anything behind aside from a few strings of hair from the mindless brushing and twirling while reading… I am kidding!
The true reason was, I wanted to be an ethical buyer. As a minimalist, I believe I bear a certain degree of responsibility in supporting the ideas of finding happiness in a less materialistic approach as preached by the author Jamie Cat Callan.
Before that, I hadn’t really picked up a book and walked to the counter for nearly a year. There was only this one time when I wandered around a nearby district and discovered an underground used bookstore with over ten cats lying and jumping around.
I don’t want this place, the home of those cats, to close down but I know it probably will someday as people are less inclined to paperbacks. I want to help with the rent, even by just a few pennies. Besides the boss kindly directed me how to get to my destination. In return I bought a few used books there.
Another example of ethical shopping was I bought a packet of baking soda for $10 at a bakery supply store when I could get the exact same box for $9.5 at a chained supermarket. To which store my money goes to matters because each dollar speaks for what I support. I wanted to support a local store which specialised in baking so I opted to spend my money there.
Compared to this guy here in Hong Kong who started his one-man campaign of not buying things from corporation chain stores for a year, I am only doing so little.
I hope by sharing how little we can do to implement the notion of ethical shopping that more people will join the league and make this world a kinder place.