Here is a post I wrote at www.connectpink.com.au
I heard a story the other day that made my blood positively boil. Friends of friends decided to stock up their house with plenty of new stuff. I’m talking clothes, furniture and kitchen items. Now, while there is absolutely nothing wrong with updating, there was absolutely nothing wrong with their outgoing goods. Nothing. So what did they do with the cast-offs? Did they offer the furniture to friends, or call the Salvos to come and collect? Did they take their clothes to an op shop? No. They hired a skip and sent it all to landfill. Done and dusted. No reusing. No recycling. And, certainly, no reducing.
My blood is still boiling, made worse by the fact I’ve become really anti-consumption of late. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against supporting trade and the economy. I’m against needless waste and I’m certainly against the disposable society we so readily support. But consumption and living in a disposable society are a bit different. Consumption is just buying things we don’t need. Often it’s to make ourselves feel better about life and working so hard. I’m as guilty of that as anyone, but now that I’m aware of it, I think very carefully about the things I buy.
If I feel the urge to shop, I think about what I really need – not want – first. It might be a hair product, some vitamins or even chew toys for my dogs. I always make sure the things I buy are things I absolutely need. I’ve stopped buying shoes because as much as I LOVE shoes, I have enough, and I need to get some serious wear on the 50-odd pairs I already have. It doesn’t matter how insignificant in size or cost, the item is still making a huge impact on the earth in the cycle of consumption. Chances are the cost does not cover the environmental impact of making the goods.
The cycle of consumption first came to my attention when I watched The Story of Stuff (storyofstuff.org) which is an outstanding short video that has won international acclaim and has spawned a whole host of follow-up material. It even made it to page one of the New York Times. This mind-bending work looks at how our consumption is destroying the earth, tree by tree, village by village and orang-utan by orang-utan.
I showed The Story of Stuff to a bunch of high school students and they were blown away. It really taps into our notion of a disposable society. Everything is for convenience and this is why we now have disposable mop heads, among a myriad other things. Why can’t we just use a mop and bucket? I don’t get it. The other day I saw the cleaner at work wiping down the tea room bench with paper towel. Surely a cloth is a better, more sustainable (and cheaper) option? Our disposable society goes so much further than just household products. Think mobile phones, computers and even cars. It’s enough to make your head spin. And it’s enough to put a massive strain on the earth’s finite resources.
The movie Fight Club summed my sentiments up perfectly.
“We buy the things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”
How do you manage the need consume? What are your buying habits?