Monday, April 25, 2005

The Most Controversial Words in Our Nation

Iraq War? Abortion? Gay People? Nope.

Stop buying so much stuff.

This is the truth underlying every conservation and environmental message out there. (Not to mention, every inner peace and simplify-your-life t.v. show and magazine article.) But, few politicians, media personalities or even environmental organizations have the courage to say it.

For instance, here's the abbreviated text from an "educational bookmark" that the State of Illinois distributed at the HomeExpo conference to promote reduced waste.

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Use!

1. Avoid disposables like the plague.

2. A sheet of paper has two sides!

3. If you get too much junk mail, write here.

4. Share! Trade books, magazines, and newspapers with friends. (Note the reference is only to printed material.)

5. Rent! If you only need something occasionally, rent it. (That's pretty close to saying, don't buy stuff you don't need, but very beat-around-the-bushy if you ask me.)

6. Donate! Charities are always looking for your unwanted, but still usable items such as clothes, eyeglasses, furniture and other household items. (As if this waste stream is endless and there's no need to cut down on buying more stuff because charities need more stuff when you're done with it.)

7. Buy in bulk. (Explicit permission-to-buy statement.)

8. Pack a waste-free lunch.

9. Bring your own bag to the grocery store.

10. Let those grass clippings lie.

Why isn't the first item "Buy less stuff?"

Fortunately, someone other than an obscure blogger like me is worrying about this. The Center for the New American Dream is an organization that's trying to say loudly and clearly to stop buying so much stuff. They've got a bunch of cool initiatives and good slogans like "Get more of what matters." Go visit their site. Then, clear out your home and see if you can keep from filling it back up again. It's damn near impossible.


David Johnsen said...

Good post. Remember how our president told us after 9/11 to go shopping? The problem is that capitalism depends upon selling more stuff (and exploiting resources). If everyone actually did cut back, our economy would crumble. Someday, possibly within our lifetimes, we will have to face the unsustainability of our culture of consumption.

Jennifer said...

Yes! I completely remember Bush saying that. In fact, I googled for the text of the speech, but couldn't find it. I don't think buying less necessarily has to be a loss for the economy if we could transition to accepting that it would be better for everyone if we began paying $80 for one pair of jeans made in the U.S. rather than owning three pairs of $25 jeans made in Cambodia. And, I don't mean to diss on Cambodia. They should get $80 for their jean making, too. I'm sure there are other examples that don't sound so jingoistic. But, you're right. We are going to have to face the unsustainability of what we have now.

Thanks for stopping by. . .

Anonymous said...

The answer isn't buying less stuff. You need to keep buying to get the economy back up. Buy, but buy with intelligence. You can still conserve and not hurt the environment while continuing to get a better bang for your buck. Buying in bulk, look for packaging that isn't as hurtful, or is recyclable. You can do more in terms of composting too. That will help reduce waste.

But really, it's more of supporting the companies that are agreeing to use less waste-full packaging, etc., in their products. Also look at -what- you're throwing away and how. You can still buy, it's more a matter of putting out information to educate people on how to dispose of it, and what to look out for.

Great post,by the way, but that's my two cents worth.