consumption vs production

Posted: June 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: consumerism, green | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why do you think we always feel like we need more? More clothes, more furniture, more books, more gadgets, more junk food, more more more more more. If the human race were a chick, we’d definitely be that needy chick that is never satisfied (now that’s a terrifying thought).

Everyone’s talking minimalism these days, and I just found this excellent video that brings up some interesting questions about our wild consumption habits and how it affects production (and ultimately, our health and the environment). It’s not super short, but it’s a great watch. (Sorry I can’t figure out how to embed the video!)

It also touches on our workaholic American ways (after all, you don’t get stuff without first getting a lot of money to buy that stuff). BTW, did you know that the US has less paid vacation days per year than Finland, France, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Switzerland, Netherlands, UK, Canada, and Japan? That’s a long list to be at the bottom of.

But let me get back on track. I’m not sure about you, but things like this definitely make me question my motives for needing x, y, and z. They say that the best way to promote change (whether it be in manufacturing, food production, whatever) is to ‘vote with your dollar.’ Lately I’ve been trying to be smarter and more mindful about the things I consume – do I really need this? How will it positively impact my life, my health? Will I have this for years to come? Or will it wind up in a dump? How will it impact the life of the person who made it? Should I buy this cheap version & replace it with something nicer down the road, or just save for the nicer version to begin with? Things like that.

It hasn’t been too difficult of a change for me – I’m not a big fan of clutter to begin with, and it feels great to think you’re making a difference of any kind. Knick knacks & the like really aren’t my thing anyway, paired with the fact that I’ve lived in apartments for most of my adult life and just haven’t had the room. And honestly, I feel much less distracted and claustrophobic when my home isn’t packed to the brim with crap. Over the past year or so I’ve donated loads upon loads of random junk I’ve accumulated over the years (rather, I put it in a box, Julian takes it). Guess what? I haven’t missed any of it. Not one single time have I thought, “Man, I really wish I still had that lamp/candle holder/sweater/DVD/etc.” What does that go to show you?

Have you made any changes to try and simplify your possessions and/or reduce your consumption? Any good tips, articles, websites? Please share!

Photo: Tornados In Brooklyn

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Cairo’s ‘Garbage City’ Makes Me Feel Dirty

Posted: December 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: consumerism | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

Blech. I feel dirty. And you probably will, too, after taking a look at these photos of ‘Garbage City’ the ‘WALL-E’-esque town outside Cairo, Egypt that is overrun with trash, trash and more trash! This is an actual place in Egypt that seems to exist solely for housing the 10,000 tons of daily trash from Cairo.

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Icky icky poo. Take a long, hard look at this, my friends, because this is where we are headed if we keep feeding the consumer beast that lives within all of us, telling us that we need more, more, MORE!

See the rest of the photos at Inhabitat.

Side note: There is a community of 60,000 people, called the Zabbaleen, who reside in the city and make a living by collecting, sorting, reusing, reselling and repurposing Cairo’s trash. Their innovative method of solid waste disposal has won them awards, but on Jan 1, Egypt is ending the Zabbaleen’s contracts and replacing them with foreign waste management companies. The switch will cause 60,000 people to lose their jobs. Their story is actually quite interesting, they are mostly Coptic Christians who came to the city as peasants about 50 years ago and began collecting garbage in shopping carts on the outskirts. In the 80s, they began manufacturing the trash with the help of a development agency. With the money they earned, they have been able to upgrade their neighborhoods, educate their children (all currently enrolled in school), create jobs for women and improve their equipment and methods. Here is a great article with loads of info.

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