“America is where 5% of the world’s population uses over 30% of the earth’s natural resources.” ~ Annie Leonard
We love our stuff.
A life of consumption is pretty awesome when you’re the consumer, especially if you live in Texas. We live high on the hog, whether we can afford to or not, with pick-up trucks and SUV’s the standard one-driver vehicle, strip shopping centers and fast food convenience at every corner, recycling but an afterthought. Waste is rampant here. Hip-high piles of garbage lay on curbs, awaiting the twice-per-week haul to the landfill. It’s convenient — cheaper even — than sorting all that mess for reuse or recycle.
We are addicted to our stuff.
Our consumption percentages tell the story. It’s no wonder the rest of the world is either mad at us, trying to kill us, or destroying their own environment and risking life and limb to become us. Meanwhile, we change the channel, eat some cheap, yummy take-out, go do more shopping, and go into debt to keep the whole thing going.
Why not? It’s the American way, after all.
It’s work to manage stuff.
As I sort through boxes of attic remnants, sorting household items that can be used again by someone else, tediously matching various game pieces and toy sets to be used again by less fortunate kids, I am satisfied at least all this remains free of the landfill for the meantime. Oh, sure, eventually, they will make it into the ground, or into the world’s oceans; practically none of it can be recycled. Plastics, full of toxins, used for only a short time by us and others, it would have been far better had they not even come to be in the first place.
Perhaps a paradigm shift is in order.
Stuff does not buy happiness, not even at Christmas.
The act of not consuming is hardest at this time of the year. Clever advertising — capitalist propaganda — is constantly pushed into our eyes and ears. Our sole purpose, it seems, is to boost the all-important GDP before year’s end, and if we don’t buy, we are somehow valued less as people, bad parents even. This game misses the mark for so many families in America, never mind the millions of others affected by our consumptive habits outside our borders.
It’s time to look behind the curtain of where our stuff really comes from. (Pssst. Most of it isn’t even from America anymore.)
The Story of Stuff Project
Annie Leonard has a style and activism when it comes to consumption and waste reduction that puts my own to shame. Her presentation features the crux of the problem: a linear materials economy with a finite resource input. I wonder how many of us are really aware of its impact on our environment, our neighbors — our very selves. It’s a fun and educational 20-minutes, no matter whether you love your stuff, are addicted to your stuff, or have already been liberated from your stuff.
The Story of Solutions
If you’d like to know how you can break the cycle, watch another short video highlighting a solution to the materials economy: trading GDP with Better as the goal. It may be hard to accomplish alone, but working together, it can be done. And it sure beats letting nature accomplish its solution for us down the line.
Think before you buy. Our world is smaller
and more fragile than you think.