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What does
Overcoming consumerism accomplish?

It is a means by which one can live a good yet more environmentally benign life, while improving their community, gaining time for family and friends, saving money and raising the value of their possessions.

Overcoming consumerism can also mean survival for your sanity, economic health and, long-term, the survival of you and those that you influence when the systems based on the use of unsustainable resources begin their imminent decline.

Consumerism has been imposed on our lives, society, economy and our environment layer by layer. It is now time to begin its removal one layer at a time. Small everyday changes are easier to implement than a broad philosophical revolution, but lead inexorably to that outcome.

You vote for the kind of economy, society and environment that you want every time you spend green ballots called money. Vote for yourself and for your future by spending carefully and wisely, or when appropriate, not spending at all.

WHY OVERCOMING CONSUMERISM MAY EQUAL SURVIVAL
People who fill their intellectual horizons with nothing beyond sports statistics and exquisite attention to their personal appearance, who know nothing of real matters such as growing food, repairing things and asserting their independence from mass culture are in for a rough future. A quiet disaster of seemingly unconnected changes will overwhelm their expectations, hopes and transient security.


People concerned with the subjects of this site and others like it are in a much better position to work with the timeless changes that will occur.
and Are occuring: "The Slow Crash" by Ran Prieur

Here's a great primer if you're unfamiliar with the subject of Peak Oil:

 

It is in the overall reduction of demand for socially destructive products and services that the greatest effects of overcoming consumerism are registered. Anything that takes away from the sales of non-sustainable enterprises is a good thing, whether it transfers the demand to sustainable businesses or simply causes the demand to disappear. The only way that corporate America is going to recognize and acknowledge that their policies are ruining lives, the environment and society is when their sacred markets start to disappear and sustainable competition grows. Overcoming consumerism leads inexorably to this.

 

How to practice Anti-Consumerism

Buying merchandise from sustainable industries and businesses is important but merely substituting an exorbitant lifestyle of unsustainable goods for an exorbitant one of Green merchandise may make the purchaser feel good but it is not going to seriously reduce the scope of the problem.

Corporations and marketers are getting smart. They are tacking "green" labels and "fair trade" stickers on all manner of their products the do not deserve the label. "WE'RE GREEN!" Has about as much significance as "FOUR OUT OF FIVE DOCTORS SMOKE CAMEL LUCKY CIGARETTES."
Our programmed fascination for new goods to replace old commodities has long been a social pathology in a system that breeds mental divisions among individuals to deny the existence of social structure. The Seven Deadly Sins are now used by advertisors to sell goods. i.e. "Drive a Mercedes and you will be envied".

The best method to overcome consumerism is to question one's true need for all items purchased new. Ask yourself, can an old item be repaired, or a substitute borrowed, rented or bought used? If you must buy new, can you wait for the item to become "last years model", thus saving money and turning planned obsolescence against itself?

If purchasing new items, the lowest cost to both the purse and the environment is a quality product that lasts, yet can be eventually repaired if need be. Before buying a new item that you personally may not use up or wear out over the life of the product, determine whether there is a secondary market for the used product and whether the material it contains can be recycled when it ultimately does wear out.

When there is a choice between products, buy those made as close as possible to home to help keep our communities working and preserve wealth here. Determine if the item is manufactured in the U.S, Scandinavia or Western Europe, countries that usually offer a high degree of protection for their workers and the natural environment when compared to other sources, especially China and Taiwan.

Buying goods made in your state or local area prevents the squandering of fossil fuels used to transport goods long distances or, in the case of out-of-season fruit, airfreight it from South America, where pesticides, finally banned in the U.S., are indiscriminately applied in the quest for perfect appearances and "marketability". See Measuring Food Miles To see just how far most factory food travels.

Impulse buying is a handmaiden of consumerism. People are forced to acknowledge the worthlessness of giftshop junk when they attempt to raise cash by selling at garage sales the novelties, gift items, impulse buys and "collectibles" of yesterday.

tasteless

Now You didn't try clicking that link did you?


Research purchases and reflect on the true need of an item before buying it. Do take advantage of large corporate owned advertising-driven stores to shop for and examine items but then buy or order them from a locally owned independent store if possible. Big price difference? Ask the smaller store if they can partially lower their price to get the sale.

Create a Local Merchant Resource list.

Think of the small locally owned stores in your area where you have received excellent service and bought great products. (We're sorry if you have none). Many of them are probably struggling to survive and may be gone soon. They can't afford advertising and may be located in out-of-the-way corners of town. Here's how we help them. We list them with a brief description, phone number and hours, print copies and carry them with us.

We give one to people that have just moved into the area or are visiting from out of town. This helps the local businesses, gives newcomers the benefit of our experience and helps to keep the chain stores away. What would you rather have? Such a list offered to you by your new neighbors or a piece of slick junk-advertising addressed to "occupant"?

BUYING, TRADING OR GIVING AWAY USED GOODS.
Destine your possessions that are no longer actively being utilized to those who can actually use them. There is an enormous amount of unwanted, unused and under utilized goods stored in closets, basements and garages. Take inventory of your household possessions and get these things to those who can actively use them. This creates wealth for the giver sometimes in the form of money, but always in storage space, less clutter, plus the goodwill of the recipient who obtains useful items at little cost. Determine what's underutilized in your home. For example: Consistently return clothing that you have just worn or laundered to the far left side of the closet bar. This gradually pushes the clothes that you never wear to the far right hand side of the closet. After a year or so you will have lots of clothes covered with dust on the right. Give them away to someone who can use them.

Each item that you give away can take the place of one yet to be purchased and thus you have prevented the shrinking of inventories and the squandering of the embodied energy and material that would be used in the manufacture of the new item. Just about every thing that you need except for food and fuel is probably sitting unused and unwanted somewhere. How to determine where it is and obtain it is always more difficult than destining your unwanted items to others. Here are some solutions to this.

If you and your neighbors pool your resources and material goods, a tremendous amount of energy, money and time can be saved. For example, a neighborhood, or community wide lending library of tools is easy to set up and eliminates the duplication and expense of everyone having their own rarely-used tools.

Setting up a community wide exchange service based on category and (clothing) size is now practical with widespread use of home pages, community bulletin boards and servers. Search Yahoo for their list of Freecycle groups. Craigslist has free, barter, trade and specialized category listings for almost every urban area in America.

Spending money in a way that keeps people working instead of consuming more resources is another means of fighting consumerism. Consider practical repair before replacement. When there is an alternative, refuse to use ATM's, automatic ticket/boarding pass issuing machines and other automated job-destroying technology.

Our local Safeway has more and more "self check out" lanes with Fewer and fewer checkers of lower and lower quality. Notice also the charitable giving scams in corporate markets these days. "Do you want to donate to XYZ charity?" The reason they do it is free publicity and most importantly, they get the charitable donation tax write off using your money which you might pay with a credit card that charges you 29% interest. We patronize a local market with unionized workers who we know and who are delightful, well paid and have a job for life if they want it.

Ask telephone information operators for a "verbal response", rather than have a voice synthesizer produce the number. All that is stopping companies from completely automating or exporting telephone service jobs is customer resistance to this practice.

How to get through to a real live human for many companies.


Ask the next order-taker that you deal with on the phone: "Where are you actually located?" Odds are that they are across the country or perhaps overseas. Tell the people whom you are dealing with on the phone why you're asking the question, they'll appreciate it and management will hear about it. Refuse to buy from companies that export or destroy service jobs. How many of the 40,000 employees that AT&T will layoff are still using AT&T as their long distance carrier? None we hope. Learn about the corporate hero who laid them off.

Pay cash whenever possible. MORE PROFITS ARE MADE FROM SELLING MONEY THAN FROM ANY OTHER LEGAL PRODUCT. Banks borrow money for near zero percent from the private federal reserve bank and then turn around and lend it to you at 29%. How's that for a scam?. And this after getting Trillions in bailouts from the taxpayers.

Credit card companies were for many years blatantly issue cards to anything that moved, including dogs, (see the example below), and then lowered the minimum payments on cards so that people would take far longer to pay off balances and thus pay more interest over the life of the debt.

{a friend of ours objected to paying .50 a month to have his new phone line unlisted so he had them list it in the name of Scruffy, the family dog, followed by the their last name.

 

Several weeks later an official letter arrived from Visa.

"Dear Scruffy________," read the letter, " because of your excellent credit history you have been pre approved to receive a Visa...."

He made a mark on the signature line and now scruffy has his own credit card that is clipped to his collar.

If you must use credit cards, pay off your balance each month and ask your credit card company to drop the annual fee so as to "remain globally competitive" or "compete" or switch to those companies with no annual fee. Consider those credit card companies that give something in return to good organizations of your choice rather than just points or discounts that lure you into buying more items such as new cars, overpriced vacations and airline travel.

Food, from epicurean to basic, makes the ideal gift. It is totally useful, leaves little waste and may not be subject to sales tax.

WASTE

One can lead a good life through the elimination of waste and using products made by sustainable means. Waste often is found by discovering patterns in how we live, our choice of what to buy, what to consume and what to do with the byproducts.

Waste also can be found in inefficiency, ritualized annual style-changes, and in the cleverly engineered consumer dissatisfaction with what we already have. Waste is in the cheap, short duration products that we buy for convenience or "fun".

Maximum sales volume of products demands the cheapest construction for the briefest interval of durability that the buying public will tolerate. Raise your standards. The individual ownership of rarely used objects is waste.

THE ECONOMY OF REUSE; What can one do to alleviate such consumption and waste while still leading a comfortable, productive life? Simply stated, every item that passes through one's hands should be utilized to its maximum. Items are useful if they have any utility or recyclable material left in them. Treat every serviceable item that one discards as a potential resource that can be used somehow. Recycling is part of this, destining items to others for reuse is another. Making do with an old item adapted for a different use is an intellectual challenge and can be far more satisfying than spending money for a new item.

Urban Ore, Berkeley, California. Millions of used items, often American made and of high quality -inexpensive.

Home Depot. AnyWheresVille. High prices-high interest rate credit available for cheap crap not as good as what's in a junkyard.

The time out of your life, the labor it takes to earn the money before taxes to buy a new item will not be wasted on buying newness. The time and money saved can be used for more useful activities such as education, leisure and savings.

EDUCATION is the heart of overcoming consumerism. The sooner an alternate economy of sustainable practices develops, then the sooner we can begin to reduce our destruction of the Earth's natural resources through living our daily lives.

Sustainability means that there is no long term environmental cost to nature in the manufacture of a product or the provision of a service: the base materials from which such products and services are made and provided can be replaced in a reasonable period of time by natural processes. i.e. Oil is not sustainable. Plants are.

Sustainability requires choosing among products that each use a certain amount of energy in the production process, and selecting the one which requires the least energy and contains materials that originate, biodegrade and are replaceable by nature in a reasonable amount of time. Sustainability means that one learns the origins and production processes of the goods and services one buys. This requires eliminating complacency and actively learning. This usually leads to a savings of money as well.

Ask where the things that you consume originate? Do they come from halfway around the world, using up fossil fuels in their transport, or do they come from nearby? Who makes them, how are they made, what is used? Do you invest in quality items that will last a lifetime, made by skilled workers earning a decent wage in your community, state or country or do you buy items made by child-labor or near slave labor that cost less, but will be thrown away, broken, worn-out or rendered "unfashionable", within a short time?

These are simple, everyday ways to overcome consumerism.
The next Link outlines stronger means of resistance.  Active resistance to Consumerism

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Overcoming Consumerism Index ; Consumerism's bad effects

O.C. Accomplishes? |    
Active Resistance      Hands on methods

2 Families compared       our personal consumer choices

consumption chart      resources to overcome consumerism

radical anti-consumerism      cars     

How to raise food     How to raise trees

eliminate polystyrene products

Corporate officers and their interlocking interests

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