Posted by: jackslife | November 28, 2007

Speaking of Consumerism

Tim Ferriss, the author of The 4-Hour Work Week, has a blog entry about a group of people who decided not to buy anything new for an entire year.  They made exceptions for food, toiletries, and medical items, but were otherwise limited to second hand items.  The idea was to cut back on shopping in general, and also to stop participating in “the cycle of disposable consumption and empty shopping…”

I know that in a society where the advice after a national tragedy is to go shopping, this seems like a strange concept.   The pursuit of more things is a never ending process.  My birthday is in December, so every year I get some money for my birthday and for Christmas.  In years past I have always had some big gizmo that I have desired.  A couple of years ago it was an IPod, last year an XBox 360.  Not that there is anything wrong with these things, but sometimes I wonder how much they really enrich my life.  I do love music, so the IPod hasn’t been something I’ve regretted, but I do wonder how much better the XBox has made my life.  It has provided me with a wonderful new way to ignore my wife and stop reading.  This is just one example, but I feel like there are so many toys that we can buy that when we really stop and think about it, we don’t need and possibly are worse off for possessing them.

We also crank through new stuff, which soon becomes old stuff, so we have to buy new stuff, etc.  We buy bottled water because it is convenient and we mistakenly think it’s better than tap water, which just leads to more plastic in landfills.  We have to have the newest cars, golf clubs, computers, etc.  We do live in a disposable society.

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