“…and I feel to be a cog in something turning.”
-Joni Mitchell, lyrics from the song: Woodstock-
We know that climate change is a real threat to the future of our children, creating extreme weather events that cause death and destruction. These occurrences seem to be getting more and more commonplace. And although it hasn’t affected us humans quite as much so far, the loss of biodiversity happening to plants and animals will put us at risk as well. (Read more here.) I think that we should connect the dots between our lifestyle and what’s happening out there. As I’ve said, I think that consumers are the ones who hold the real power for change. If we, the people, stand together and decide that we will buy less and change the way we shop in order to save the planet, who can stop us?
We’ve pointed our fingers at corporations, at lobbyists, at advertisers and so on. It hasn’t worked!! Why would they want to slow down the economy? They have everything to gain from the status quo. We’ve been criticizing our elected officials for decades, asking for better practices and legislation to protect the planet. And not much has changed. Governments sign various international climate accords, yet they disregard them with impunity!
They Manufacture the Gun but We Pull the Trigger
And what about us, the average citizen with a little bit of buying power? Every time we choose to buy an item—to the delight of manufacturers and lobbyists and advertisers—we are the ones doing the damage. Every time we buy or build a house that is too big for our needs, we’re the ones doing the damage. Every time we buy that extra car or TV or computer or hot tub or whatever, we’re the ones doing the damage. They manufacture the gun, but we pull the trigger.
That’s so harsh, but please know that I am not so much pointing the finger outward as pointing it inward at this lifestyle that we have created. How much more stuff do we really need to buy? If we don’t buy the goods, manufacturers won’t make them and boom! Tons of resources saved! And if we don’t buy the merchandise, shipping companies won’t need to ship it. Tons of carbon dioxide that we don’t put out in the atmosphere! We are led to believe that the present economy is what sustains us. The people in charge treat the economy as priority number one. In my mind, clean air and water are what sustain us. Healthy food that is raised and grown in ideal climate conditions is what sustains us. We have bought into the myth of perpetual economic growth, happily consuming because it was good for the economy. Mindlessly filling a hole, a hunger, an emptiness. Insatiable, as it turns out.
Wouldn’t it Feel Great to Topple Some Giants?
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not immune to the lure of material things. I would love to be a minimalist who is truly content with their very few possessions. That’s not me. I get a thrill out of buying stuff as much as the next person. But, damn! What I wouldn’t give to be part of a huge movement of people who are really having an impact, something tangible. A force for the commercial world to reckon with!!!
It seems to me that we have the power to change the economy. We create the demand, don’t we? We have to buy less, much less. We have to get out of debt, which only benefits the financial institutions while robbing our freedom, making us work more to pay off those debts. And the money we save on interest by buying less can be spent instead on items of value, that don’t harm the Earth. Local, healthy food, when possible. Consumer goods that come from sustainable sources. Green transportation and energy. Instead of spending our money on material possessions, we could spend it on education, recreation and relaxation, where demand on material resources would be minimal. And it would be such a benefit to our weary souls because our present way of living seems to have made us so stressed out! When the health of the planet becomes our own, saner, mental health! I believe it can happen.
By making these changes in our lifestyle, the job market that was previously based on a wasteful economy could become more sustainable. People always step up to economic opportunity! They will create a job market according to our changing demands. Already, there are so many companies out there working on cleaner energy, recycling and upcycling waste material and making all kinds of green products. And even if, as a result of us massively changing our buying habits, we went through a period of material hardship, it could be an advantage for us on other levels. Hard times have often motivated us to come together. There are so many non-profit charities and foundations out there—people always find a way to help each other. Less stuff, more love. More cooperation.
“A meaningful life can be extremely satisfying, even in the midst of hardship, whereas a meaningless life is a terrible ordeal no matter how comfortable it is.” -Yuval Noah Harari-
How could we accomplish this together? Social media seems like it could be a vehicle for connecting us all for a common purpose—perhaps conceive some type of platform where we could share our efforts and motivate the hell out of each other? I have a few ideas around this, but I’d need help with such a grand venture. Please reach out and contact me if you can collaborate, or share this post with someone who can help. Many thanks!