Ending the Consumption Addiction

consumption addiction photo

Image credit: SqueakyMarmot/Flickr

We are on a race to nowhere. Consumption drives our economy (watch www.storyofstuff.com to see why). We measure our success by consumption (how much we spend). Global consumption is equal to the cumulative GDP of all countries or the world economy. If we don't increase consumption and grow our economies every year, we deem ourselves in stagnation.We all seem to be tied to consumption. We work hard to earn money so that we can buy stuff to feel good. Yes, innovation is important and we need to replace things with better versions, but why do we need to have more things than the generation before? And by our own "buying in" to these patterns, what messages are we passing on to those who follow? Even more concerning is our trend away from durable products and toward more disposable products.

On a personal level, even though I am deeply aware of the issue, I find it hard to consume only what I absolutely need. I'm single and have two cars, create garbage, buy more than I need etc. and sadly in relation to the "average" I'm consuming less per person than the average person in America.

If as a people we consumed less and tended our consumption towards fewer, more durable products, we would loose weight, bring our manufacturing home, reduce our stress etc. But how do we do that? Perhaps as Bill W. powerfully suggested, we have to admit our addiction.

Let me begin. Hi, my name is Tom and I am an addict to consumption. But I'm ready to make different choices, no longer a victim to habit. Here's three things I can see doing:

1. Buy less disposable products. Seems simple, but in this convenience oriented society, not always easy. MIT has a webpage with some good ideas.

2. Eat lower down the food chain. Or even vegetarian. For many of us, food is largely treated as fuel. And depending on how we eat, a lot of fuel (and petroleum for fertilizers) gets used to make it. Especially with meat. Between the land needed for animals, the emissions they create, and the possible negative health effects to us, there's a lot of reasons to go vegetarian. Not your cup of tea? Then remember this simple guideline: The fewer ingredients and the less processed, the better. For you and for the environment.

3. Buy less! I know, blasphemy in this rocky economy, but stop and think a moment: Of the last ten purchases you made, how many did you really need? How many were impulse buys where the product is already discarded or now sits, in your closet or kitchen cabinet, unused? I'm not suggesting you go 100% by utter necessity. But increase your awareness while shopping, choose what you'll actually use and/or enjoy beyond the moment of purchase, and may last long past this season.

In my view, if we don't take this on, individually and collectively, we'll consume ourselves to the point of extinction..

What do you think? Are you also an addict to consumption? What ways do you see yourself or others reducing consumption? Can a shift here be fun and enjoyable rather than be an experience like dieting that feels like sacrifice?
Read more about taking responsibility:
How to Go Green: Back to Basics
eco-nomics: Go Green, Save Money
Simple Green Steps

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