Eco-Living Magazine

The Problem With Too Many Choices

Posted on the 31 July 2012 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

The Problem With Too Many ChoicesOn the rare occasion I go to a large chain grocery store, I often feel overwhelmed.  Why are there so many choices for one type of food?  Is it really necessary that there is a an entire aisle of cereal?  I honestly believe that the world would keep spinning if we didn’t have Fruit Loops Smoothie, but without it we would be eliminating a good source of calcium.  Generally speaking, unless refrigeration is needed, it isn’t a good source of calcium.  It is not just the cereal aisle that is like this, it is each aisle.  There are numerous chips, crackers, jelly, and bread varieties.  Frankly, it is a bit out of control.  Wouldn’t life be simpler if we weren’t spending so much time at the grocery store deciding if we want Wheat Thins with Ranch flavor or Wheat Thins with Sun-dried Tomato and Basil?  As a friend of mine once said about a brand of chips, there is flavored and unflavored, and what more of a decision do you need to make?  If you like plain potato chips, then get those, otherwise all the other flavors tend to blend together.
I feel like as Americans we want choice so companies give us choice.  But this decision for choice has been taken to the extreme.  Limiting choice to under 20 options would still give people a choice but within reason.  Maybe having so many choices is one reason why college students can’t decide on a major and can now stick with “undecided” as a major well into their college career.  Have we been so inundated with choices that we just give up and go with whatever seems easiest- like what is on sale or what is at eye level, versus what we really want.  Children are also often overwhelmed with choices, which is why many parenting books tell you to give your child only a couple of choices to choose from, otherwise they can’t decide.

The endless possibilities of choice continue outside the grocery store; it extends to cars, clothes, music, movies.  I feel that within my own closet I often have too many choices, so I just keep wearing the same shirts every week.  Maybe this is a sign to minimize my closet to a week’s worth of clothes, something I have already thought about.

I feel that with spending so much time creating more choices we are just wasting our time, when time is of the essence.  We should be directing our time and energy towards creating sustainable solutions, not another Cheerio flavor. We still need to figure out how to sustainably grow food for our increasing population, have sustainable transportation for our ever growing cities and how to have sustainable energy options for an ever growing demand.  So corporations, can you please decide to redirect your money to these causes?  Every time I see a new food product I get frustrated and confused on what was wrong with previous options.

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