It’s no secret that I am not exactly enamoured with ‘Western’ thinking, as I call it in the terms of a sweeping generalisation. Let’s talk consumer culture. Thrown into ever sharper relief by the on-going world-wide economic crisis, two things are becoming clear. 1) Money is imaginary. 2) We’re being sold shit we don’t need by people who don’t care about us. (Maybe I’ll go into more detail with my thoughts on these subjects later, they’re not really the point here.)
Yet, as someone who eschews this consumer culture, what am I doing? I’m living in the Western world,buying my food every week from a shiny supermarket, oogling shoes in shop windows, perusing Amazon for books and cds, buying into the very culture I’m trying to organise a respite from.
I say that we should consume less, that the world can’t take all the energy we use, we waste. I say that we have too much stuff, that we don’t need all these clothes. Yet, I have too much stuff and I really don’t need all my clothes. As a human, I’m definitely part of the problem. I can spout my theories all I like, but at the end, I am what I do.
Next year I do plan to move to Peru, removing myself from Sainsburys and central heating, but for now, what more can I do?
I do try to donate to capitalism as little as possible in general. I re-use my plastic bags. I haven’t bought new clothes in a while. I like to buy books from charity shops. I turn lights off when I leave the room. I turn taps off when I’m not using them. I don’t do meat and dairy. We have a veg patch with tomatoes in…
I suppose I could go and live in a cave and draw my water from the local river and live on nuts and berries, writing messages on leaves to spread around the neighbourhood letting the local kids know that while living in a cave might be fucking inconvenient, it’s better for the environment. But, you know, I don’t want to do that.
I believe that us humans are here to enjoy life and that does involve progress and the magical machines that we surround ourselves with, the ability to create light and having fresh water pumped into our homes. These advances rock and upon their invention, improved our lives no end.
I also believe that progress has advanced beyond what the world can take. We need to seriously tone down our use of these awesome inventions and realise that they were created in an effort to improve our lives but not to let us sink into a lethargy of convenience at the expense of the giant toy we call earth.
So! Set up a swap shop, re-use your carrier bags, turn off lights and taps when you’re not using them, wait ’til something falls apart and can’t be mended before buying secondhand (not new). Start a veg garden, darn your socks, borrow books from the library, borrow cds and films from the library! Eat more local produce. Spend less, save more. Go for long walks with friends. Cook for more people. Talk more (in person). Have a games night. (A post on Communopoly will be here soon, or here.) Drop off the radar. Follow this man’s example.
All these actions keep money (which is imaginary, don’t forget) out of the hands of the giant corporations and flowing around local companies, local produce places, or just in your bank account. (Insofar as I believe in money, I believe in banks.)
Removing yourself as much as possible from the CONSUME mindset, (more specifically, the CONSUME to EXCESS mindset) means you’re affected less by advertising. It’s just shit we don’t need, sold to us by people who don’t care if we’re happy, as long as there’s more money in their pocket.
Honestly, if they wanted you to have that product for your own good, wouldn’t it be free? (Or at least available for a fair trade in a service you could provide them. More on anarchy later…)