Sunday, October 2, 2011

52 Small Steps - Week 11

I had to work at the University of Alberta yesterday (actually I've worked most of this week, which is why it's been quiet over here at Renaissance Woman - busy, busy, busy).  I'm doing research, and they have the best Arctic Library around.  So I went into town.  I left a little early so I could go to Ikea.  They have a little bookshelf that I've been wanting for a long time.  You see, the area beside my bed is just a huge pile of books - some that I'm reading, some that I started reading and didn't finish (yet) and some that I intend to read.  It seems to grow and spread.  So far I can still get into bed, but I'm wondering how long that will last.  I have a  rubbermade box of books under the bed, too (a big one), and a bookshelf in the closet. 

Anyhow, I went to Ikea to buy the bookshelf, but as I was sitting in the cafeteria eating a one dollar breakfast (which was worth exactly one dollar!  Yuck!  Last time I do that!), I realized that I didn't want to contribute any more.  What do I mean by that?  Well, I've been watching the protests on Wall Street (have you heard about them, because a lot of people haven't), and I've been reading this book "No Impact Man" (you can find his blog here and the No Impact Project website here), and I've been observing the world around me, and I realize that pretty much all of our problems come from this attitude of consumerism.  The way I see it (which is a narrow view, I am sure) is that the corporations are feeding the billionaires, but sucking the poorer people dry.  And I don't want to feed the billionaires anymore.  So the best thing to do is not participate any more than I have to, right?
It's not a new idea.  Lots of people have recognized it in the past.  Lots of people buy used things if they need them, reduce their spending, etc.  And I'm not saying that I'm going to completely remove myself from the corporate culture that we live in (I like my iPod, and we're going to continue to go to Disneyland for as long as we can).  I think it would be very uncomfortable to do so.  But what I'm going to do, and the small step I'm suggesting for this week, is to think about it.  Think of what your purchases are going to do in the long run.  Is your style, your comfort and your convenience worth the actual cost of buying that article?  Is it something you NEED?  Or just something you WANT?  Is it better to buy 47 cheap shirts made in China or one good shirt made of organic cotton in Canada?  It may be more stylish to buy the 47, but what is the cost of being stylish?  Is it better to buy a new bookshelf, or maybe go to a consignment store or antique shop to buy a used one?  Do you really need another purse?  Or a new pair of shoes? 

The corporations spend billions of dollars telling you that you NEED something.  Why don't you start making your own decisions about that - or as much as you can.  I'm going to try.  Don't expect me to be perfect (I don't expect you to, either), but I'm going to ask myself (and you) to be aware.  Be aware of what you're buying, where it came from, who was abused in the process, what waste is going to end up in our environment.  And once you've thought about all of that, THEN decide if you really NEED it. 

If you haven't already, watch "The Story of Stuff" by Annie Leonard:

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