It must be said: We shop too much.

Sometimes, of course, we actually need stuff (most often food) and then shopping is necessary. But most of the time we shop for gratification. It's not that we love the activity (many of us don't). What we love is getting new stuff. Even very small, insignificant purchases seem to light up the reward centers of our brains.

It's clear why we might have evolved this way. Back when we hunted and gathered, we needed the burst of happy brain chemicals to motivate us to do the hard work.

But in modern times, when goods are easy to come by, those happy brain chemicals are trouble. Not only do they lead us to overconsume, they make us overlook the risks to health and the environment that our purchases cause. The promise of the shopping high makes us shut our eyes.

It's as if we all signed on to "don't ask, don't tell" in the marketplace.

Well, these columns do a little telling, along with advising on better choices. See Plastic Water Bottles for a health issue many people do know about nowadays (BPA), Scented Products for one that many don't and Pure Gold for environmental and ethical issues many would prefer to ignore altogether. Heck, check them all out before you shop.


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