Consumption is a topic that I have been thinking about a lot recently. I feel as though society, myself included, is turning a blind eye to the amount of stuff that we use. I find myself asking; Why are the habits of this generation and this time so different than the behaviors of the past? When did it become OK to use, use, use, without any care or concern for how things will be replenished? How can I reduce what I use, appreciate what I have, and help create a richer place for the future? I wonder if this is a topic that most ever stop and think about. Is the average everyday person out there stopping to think about the effect of their actions? Do people realize that the tiniest of things that we do today will have an effect on tomorrow?
I stopped at the grocery store on the way to work this morning and purchased one item; a small box of food coloring. The grocery attendant happily put my one box (which was already wrapped in plastic) into a plastic grocery bag. I carry a HUGE purse and could easily put a sack full of groceries inside. I told her 'I don't need a bag, thanks', and was on the receiving end of a questioning glance (as always). Why is 'no bag, thanks' so hard to understand?
This could easily turn into a plastic vs. paper vs. reusable bag debate; the issue is much larger. Why are we drinking bottled water when the tap is usually cleaner and tastier? Why is it OK for you to throw your cigarette butt out the window of your car? Who needs to eat strawberries in the middle of January? Are we taking advantage of local recycling programs? Why do we need brand new cars every 4 years? Do you know what chemicals are in your [fill in the blank (shampoo, chicken, carpet, laundry detergent, etc.)]? When did shopping become a hobby? Why does a newlywed couple need a 4 bedroom house?
I believe that this issue boils down to the fact that 1. we have lost sight of wants and needs and 2. we have stopped thinking for ourselves and instead have come to accept the status quo.
We have become used to needing a lot of pointless stuff. We have also become used to getting what we want and therefore, somewhere along the line, convincing ourselves that we need it. I think that we as a society would greatly benefit from weighing our wants and needs and making sure that the two are in check.
I also think that we would greatly benefit from taking a long look at our current lifestyles and practices and deciding whether or not this is really how we want to live. When was the last time you asked yourself 'how is this made' 'what effect does this have on me' 'why do I want this' 'will I really use this'? We have fallen under the veil of consumerism and prosperity and have stopped living our own lives. Instead, we are puppets of TV commercials, the Joneses, housing bubbles, and the like.
What does this mean for me? How do I turn these thoughts into action? What about you? Are you stopping to think? Do you really 'need' everything you say you do? Is your life helping or hurting those around you and future generations?