Saturday, June 9, 2012

Step 6 - Buy Less Stuff

Reducing our purchases is the key to consuming responsibly. In America, our consumption patterns define us as a person and member of society. If you aren't buying the new and latest goods and gadgets, then you are not doing your part for the economy, and you are often seen as out-of-touch with fads and trends, which has a whole slew of negative connotations. We have all heard the radio ads that make fun of a person for having an older cell phone model, a used car, or outdated clothes. These ads are selling Americans on the idea that if it isn't new, it isn't good enough and you will be ostracized and criticized.

This step is my favorite of all of them because I find it to be the easiest, once you overcome the stigma of not being "hip" enough. Really, buying new goods on a constant basis is simple brainwashing by the media - the advertising agents at companies create ad campaigns to sell their goods to the consumer. Not because they feel we really need the latest cell phones, but because they really need us to buy them in order to make more money. They do this by making us feel pathetic and uncool if we don't buy the latest goods. And let's face it, no one wants to feel that way. But we can change this attitude. First off, don't allow the advertising agents to tell us how to feel based on the goods we purchase. Just because my cell phone flips open does not mean I'm not as good or worthy as my best friend with a touch screen. The only one who TRULY believes that is the company trying to sell me the touch screen phone.

Buying less isn't just about keeping our old phones, clunky cars and outdated clothes. It's also about keeping perfectly usable goods out of landfills. When we buy new and updated items, many of us throw out the old, even if it's still functional, or requires a little tinkering. How many times have you discarded an item of clothing because of rip? Or got a new cell phone because you saw one that had a better color? This step is about learning to accept what we have, knowing that even if it's not perfect, it's still good enough. If you have to replace an item, or want something you don't have, visit a second hand store, ask a friend, go to a flea market, or join freecycle. Ignore the stigma of old = uncool. Do not let companies tell you what you need to buy. Learn to fix things that are broken.

Take 20 minutes and watch this video by Annie Leonard. It will change how you consume.

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