Question from a reader:I have to use things until they wear out before getting new ones. It took me seven years to use up 14 bottles of nail polish. I should get a new pair of sandals, but my old ones aren’t completely worn-out yet, so I’ll wait. My friends tell me this is not normal.
Answer:Do the old sandals damage your feet? Is there a masochistic “I am not worthy” element to your frugality? If so, you have a psychological issue that needs to be addressed. But if you value things merely for their utility, then your example may prove something profound: You are normal, and the rest of us, in our mad material dash are, well, mad. As Arthur Gish put it in Beyond the Rat Race, a classic meditation on simplicity, “We buy things we do not need to impress people we do not like.”Most of us buy and waste, waste and buy, at landfill-filling rates that are alarming, if not psychotic. Your thrift, says Nando Pelusi, PhD, a clinical psychologist in New York City, may take asceticism to new levels, “but, who knows,” he says, “you just might be saving the planet!”