IT’S KILLING US
Consumerism, noun: a social and economic order that equates personal happiness with consumption and the purchase of material possessions; a widespread cultural belief in capitalist societies that more and more STUFF brings happiness and well-being.
Consume, verb: to use up, to destroy, to squander.
This is precisely what our culture of consumerism is doing: using up, destroying, and squandering the earth’s resources–resources that make our lives possible.
CONSUMERISM = SQUANDERING RESOURCES
- Oxygen-giving forests are ravaged to provide timber and paper products. Much of that timber is transformed into monster houses, which are wasteful both of space and energy. Some of that paper is (mis)used to print advertisements urging us to buy more stuff.
- Aquifers are over-pumped to produce crops used to feed cattle. Many of those cows become fast food McDonald hamburgers.
- The manufacturing of all that stuff we buy requires lots of water and plenty of energy. The energy comes mainly from fossil fuels and dirty coal.
- The earth’s atmosphere is fouled with carbon dioxide emissions from the factories manufacturing the stuff, as well as from cars, and tar sands development. CO2 emissions cause global warming, which is making the earth less habitable for humans.
- Global warming is causing the glaciers to melt. Glaciers are the source of water for southern Saskatchewan.
- Stores are crammed with stuff made from the Earth’s resources. Much of that stuff is tossed out shortly after purchase, and ends up in the landfill.
A QUIZ FOR SHOPPERS: 8 QUESTIONS TO ASK OURSELVES EVERY TIME WE GO SHOPPING
- Do I need it?
- How long will it last?
- Could I borrow it from a friend or family member?
- Can I get it second hand?
- How will I dispose of it when I’m done using it?
- What resources have been used to produce it?
- Are those resources renewable or nonrenewable?
- Is it made from recycled materials and is it recyclable?
ALTERNATIVES TO SHOPPING OR HOW TO FIND TRUE HAPPINESS
Studies show that, after basic needs are met, real happiness comes, not from all that stuff we buy, but rather from such things as ●fulfilling social relationships ●engagement with community ●non-competitive games ●creative activities ●mental and spiritual enrichment ●contact with nature.
We can get out of the rat race by putting a stop to unnecessary shopping. When we are not pressured to work to pay for pointless stuff –a new outfit, a bigger car, the latest gadget–we have more time for activities that can give us lasting happiness.
“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy stuff we don’t need.” From the movie Fight Club, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk
THE RECOVERING CONSUMER’S PLEDGE
This month, rather than shopping, I will do 2 of the following:
- Spend more time with family and friends.
- Go out of my way to help someone in my neighbourhood.
- Invite someone over for coffee or soup.
- Take up a creative activity. Discovering the trendy skill of knitting is one option. Joining a choir is another.
- Borrow a book or DVD from the library.
- Expand my mind. Take a class.
- Play a game with a child or an older person.
- Take regular walks around my neighbourhood.
- Buy less so I can afford to give more.
- Add my strength to a group working for social change. Studies show that activists are healthier! ☺
RESOURCES TO HELP US CHANGE OUR VALUES
The Story of Stuff, available in book form at the library and as a 20 minute animation on line at: http://www.storyofstuff.com/
Linda McQuaig, All You Can Eat: Greed, Lust and the New Capitalism, a book available at Regina Public Library.
The Worldwatch Institute, State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures from Consumerism to Sustainability, a book available at Regina Public Library. Sections of the book are available on line at http://blogs.worldwatch.org/transformingcultures/about-2/preview/
The Compact, a movement to buy nothing new beyond necessities, for one year. Google “The Compact.”
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed. –Mahatma Gandhi