Mindful Consumption or My Message to the 99%

A friend forwarded a link to a story about a family challenging themselves not to buy anything new for a year. She sent it with “You’ll love this…” on the subject line and she was right.

I think it is a great challenge because it makes you think about how you consume. Most of us spend mindlessly- ending up with piles of crap we will never use or wear. Why do you think storage units have become such a growth industry over the last 15 to 20 years?

People speak very highly about how they do a big purge annually. My first thought is always how much money did they just throw away? At least they tend to donate their castoffs to a non-profit and not send it to a landfill.

I find it ironic a lot of these people can’t get over the “ick” factor of buying something someone else has worn but it is okay for other people to buy their castoffs. I have my own list of things I will only buy new (underwear, swimsuits) but they don’t seem to understand that people try on stuff in a “regular” store so even “new” stuff is germy.

Sorry, minor digression.

While I think it is great for the environment I understand the little things we do may not make a huge difference in the greater scheme of things. But I have to believe this mindfulness can inspire others to make small and big changes.

Ultimately we have to vote, tell the politicians and policy makers what we really want but also vote in our everyday lives by how we spend our hard earned dollars.

Much has been made about the world-wide protests- the 1% “haves” versus the rest of us 99% “have-nots.” I don’t know what their specific agenda is, that is, I don’t know what they hope to accomplish and what actionable items they propose to achieve these goals. I don’t disagree that the acceleration of the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few at the expense of the many is alarming (was that too Vulcan?) but I don’t understand where they intend to take this.

Okay, slightly off topic- let me bring it back.

I think the individual has a lot more power than he/she realizes. Sure, we all have our “why bother” moments but every day we make decisions that broadcast what we want. Locally produced seasonal food or oranges flown in from Florida in February? Drinking coffee made from fair-trade organic beans or the cheapest high octane caffeine high you can find? Going to a big box store that treats their staff with respect or closing your eyes and go where they supposedly offer the “best” prices? Buying second-hand or going with brand spanking new?

But it isn’t always either or. Sometimes it’s a choice between the lesser of two evils or even doing without (gasp!) until there is a better option.

And before we butt heads over the efficiency of market forces, I am not suggesting this is a perfect solution, not even close.

I think we, as individual consumers in a world that revolves around consumerism, wield a lot of power and it is up to us to recognize this fact and use this power for good. But this is a very optimistic view when most people are comfortable just closing their eyes- thinking they cannot affect positive change in any way- effectively giving up the reins to others. The 99% can effectively crush the 1% if they (we) wish.

So, 99%, mull that over as you sip your Starbucks.


~ by angryegg on November 22, 2011.

2 Responses to “Mindful Consumption or My Message to the 99%”

  1. How much money would people have in the bank if they did not buy things they do not need or do not use; also add in the money saved by not having to pay for the storage rental?

  2. Hmmm, hard to quantify since one’s definition of “need” can vary greatly. My friend’s mother passed last year and I flew to Moncton to help clear out three huge (!!) storage units her parents rented over twenty years- costing them about $500 a month (conservative guesstimate). That would have made for a nice downpayment on a place ($120K). There were some items of incredible sentimental value found but the majority was junk. I can see the value of short term storage for renovation purposes or to stage a place to sell but ouch!

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