I am addicted to Kmart.

There. I’ve said it. I am addicted to Kmart and I love everything it has to offer. From their ridiculous post-Christmas 5c sales, to their flamboyant bagging of over-blown decorative constructs like flamingo-shaped desktop-sized neon lights and faux succulents the approximate size and shape of a baby’s head. I want it all.

Somewhere, deep inside, I know that this a troublesome spending trend. $2 spent on various hilariously-shaped decorative knick-knacks may seem meagre at first, but not when you go upwards of four times a week and spend multiples of that simple two dollar coin each outing. It’s like an exercise in self-restraint. I wander the aisles randomly picking up items of interest only to re-asses my choices prior to making it to the registers. I then promptly attempt to offload at least 75% of my choices by stowing them discreetly amongst alternate shelves. Did I need those yoga gloves? Do I even DO yoga? WHAT IS YOGA? On that note, if you happen to see a pair of yoga gloves stuffed among a pile of Made-In-China liquorish twists, that’s probably my work of art.

It’s not that the items at Kmart aren’t without merit – it’s that I simply don’t NEED them. I feel that my innate Asian-cheapskate is strong when I approach a Kmart. It’s cheap. I must attain it. I must attain many of them. The more the merrier.

This is why I’m surrounded by a small pile of foil-bows and a pack of spare acrylic letters for a lightbox that I can’t actually find.

Another troubling thought is the origin of such cheap items. How can they make them so cheap? Well, the answer is as simple as it is troublesome to think about. There’s certainly some poor factory worker in Bangladesh or China slaving away over our cut-price items. A thought that many of us (myself included) manage to block out when we go out the luxury of our air-conditioned shops. The level of cognitive dissonance required for me to continue to buy scores of items at such places is so hardened that I often come home and ask myself, why?

Why have you done this Jayne?

You need to change your game, Jayne.

Jayne, srsly, what the crap?

Ultimately, us, as the consumer, need to be kept accountable. It doesn’t take too much to realise how these wonderfully cheap items are created. And while lots of the “big-players” in the garment industry have made ground-breaking changes in the working conditions of many (Target and Kmart included, which is a nice thought) there’s still a ways to go before working conditions and wages reach a even close to a functional “minimum wage”. Of course, this stems from a larger-picture problem of generally lower national minimum wage in many of these nations, but I often feel, we should be trying harder. Like, in general.

So, to keep on-trend with the whole “New Year, New You” thing, I’m making conscious effort this year to drop my spending on extraneous items and to support companies that make a conscious effort to ethically source their products. Even when I type this, I feel like this should be an everyday habit. If this means having to wait a bit longer, spend a little more or research a little harder prior to purchasing an item, so be it.

x jayne