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!
I must be the last person on Earth to have learned about Kickstarter, a community-driven way to fund creative-driven projects. You can pledge to ‘back’ projects with as little as $1, and many of them even offer rewards for doing so. Plus, you get to learn about the projects along with way with stories, videos, updates, and more. Each project must meet their funding goal before any of the money changes hands. It’s pretty neat!
I have only funded one project so far, Heritage Seed Co., but I’m pretty excited about it. One, because I think seed saving is not only fantastic but necessary – as many a documentary has told us, the agriculture industry is becoming dominated by a small number of very large companies who create genetically modified seeds to “commit suicide” after one season, forcing farmers to buy more each season, fining them if they find their patented seeds in their fields (often wind-blown from a neighboring farm), putting them in financial dire straits, not to mention sacrificing the integrity of food and the way it was meant to grow. These seeds are also bland, tasteless, and the crops are usually sprayed within an inch of life with pesticides. As a project backer, I got my choice of reward, and I chose a few packages of heritage seeds. Awesome! Watch the vid to find out more about seed saving & their project:
I love that every couple days I get emailed an update about their progress. It makes me feel like I’m a part of it, at least in some small way. So far they have 81 backers and are at $2,792 pledged. Their goal is $10,000 and they have 33 days to get there.
Learn more about Heritage Seed Co & poke around at the other many worthy projects!
Ick! Ick ick ick! Last week, I shared a video about the story of bottled water from Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff project. Her latest video has me squirming and completely grossed out, because it’s about something I (and you, too, probably) use every single day (except on days when I’m just too lazy). I’m talking about MAKEUP. And cosmetics in general, including shampoo.
I like to think of myself as more educated about this than the average person, seeing as my Mother owns her own line of handmade soaps and is always telling me what garbage goes into the national brands we buy at Target and what not. I started washing my face with oils, toning with witch hazel and moisturizing with Avalon organic lavender lotion long ago, but now I’m completely convicted about what else I might be putting on my face that contains potentially cancer-causing chemicals.
This is our SKIN, people – the same skin that sweats and is extremely porous, permeable and absorbent. It works both ways. Our skin pushes stuff out and it pulls stuff in. Maybe we should be thinking a little more about what it is we’re slathering all over it, right?
I feel dirty.
So what do you buy? This is a great place to start, it’s a very long list of cosmetics manufacturers that have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. It’s updated frequently, this list is from March 2010. I was very proud to see that my Mom is on this list, by the way!
Oh how I love Annie Leonard and her educational video series The Story of Stuff. I just now caught this installment she did about the story behind bottled water. If you’re concerned about the future of our planet, your own health, your bank account, or your future grandkids, you may want to watch this video. It’s not long and it’s very easy to digest, so you have no excuses (especially if you’re reading this blog right now instead of working).
There! You’ve now been educated. So what are you gonna do?
My guess is that most of us who see this will still continue to buy bottled water out of convenience. I’m certainly aware of the horrible consequences of this behavior, yet I have one sitting on my desk at work as we speak. Yes, I’m guilty too, not at all preaching. But I’m eager to make a change, and I hope you will too. After all, the choices we make today will affect what kind of world our grandkids live in. So let’s suck it up and make some positive changes for their sake.