Christina Dong: Less is more

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I’m often guilty of buying frivolous things there, but last week there were actually two practical items on my Target list: laundry detergent and toilet paper. After an obligatory browse through colorful pieces of clothing, I traversed the main aisle, a runway for shoppers on a mission and a playground for their children, finally reaching the household items section. I never thought I’d be so scornful of a sea of plastic jugs, but that day I was finally conscious of its excess.

The degree to which Americans take a very simple thing and make it bigger and “better” is embarrassing. I get that different brands of detergent do different things for our whites, brights, and colors. And that some people prefer “mountain fresh” over “spring and renewal.” But the way I see it, whether you buy Tide or Target brand, your clothes will be clean. They’ll even smell good.

After grabbing the detergent that was on sale, I steered my cart around the corner to the next aisle: toilet paper. Yes, at Target, an entire aisle is dedicated to toilet paper. The expanse of white plastic-encased bundles completely surrounded me, on both sides of the aisle, stacked well above my head. The sheer quantity was ridiculous; the different kinds, even more laughable.

Frankly, toilet paper has one purpose—a very, very basic one. Therefore, the fact that plush, quilted 4-ply toilet paper even exists in the first place is absurd. So is the fact that manufacturers compete against each other to produce the best kind. I am disappointed to see us make a big deal over something so trivial, just because we can.

Perhaps we’ve forgotten the idea of “good enough,” especially in the area we live in, which lends itself to excess. So for household products and beyond, I consider it important to maintain a good understanding of what “need” is and to consider what things are worth inflating. This doesn’t necessarily entail living a Spartan lifestyle; it’s a matter of not falling for the lure of extravagance. My hope is that people consider the areas in which they may indeed fall for this because I believe a consciousness of need keeps us humble.