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There's an article over on Alternet entitled "Our Obsession With Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities and Our Health" which is an excerpt from a new book called The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard. Here are a couple of pargraphs.
I really think many people don't even think about these things very often. I know I'm thinking about it in a much more mindful way since my income dropped considerably on January 1 of this year. And I don't even like to shop.
Before I go any further, I want to say that I'm not against all consumption. One irate viewer of The Story of Stuff film e-mailed me and said, "If you're against consumption, where did you get that shirt you're wearing?" Duh. Of course everyone needs to consume to live. We need food to eat, a roof over our head, medicine when we're sick, and clothes to keep us warm and dry. And beyond those survival needs, there's a level of additional consumption that makes life sweeter. I enjoy listening to music, sharing a bottle of wine with friends, and occasionally donning a nice new dress as much as the next person.
What I question is not consumption in the abstract but consumerism and overconsumption. While consumption means acquiring and using goods and services to meet one's needs, consumerism is the particular relationship to consumption in which we seek to meet our emotional and social needs through shopping, and we define and demonstrate our self-worth through the Stuff we own. And overconsumption is when we take far more resources than we need and than the planet can sustain, as is the case in most of the United States as well as a growing number of other countries. Consumerism is about excess, about losing sight of what's important in the quest for Stuff.
Our whole relationship with both consuming and the items that we consume is worth reflecting about.
There's also a website about it all right here.