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Radical Anti-Consumerism and Reduction of Demand

If you just want to recycle materials or take small (albeit important) steps that are part of Anticonsumerism and you ARE otherwise happy with the way things are going in this economy and society, then-this page probably isn't for you. Back to the Index

If you want material to which you can bring your own experiences and with which you can take further, more serious action, regarding the subjects addressed so far, read on.

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Overcoming Consumerism can be seen as not only a constructive philosophy but as a serious weapon for positive change and also, vengeance. Weapons belong in the hands of people who have a just cause and have to fight for their own survival.

In spite of the economy "Being in the Best Shape That it's Been in For Thirty Years",tm most people find life less secure, more disjointed and it's harder to make connections with those around them. The future, for both you and the Earth, seems more of a threat than a promise. Your expectation of a career, the future vision you had of working life, the Sunny Golden Tomorrow, it's now gone, like last nights furtive dream.

Do you, or your parents, who grew up and prospered in a totally different world and economy, blame these shortcomings on you? Perhaps you didn't make all the right decisions, (notice how the regret is usually expressed in financial terms)...it is, however, the basic circumstances of our lives and livlihoods and society that have changed and it's confronting this change that's addressed in this site.

Whether the economy has turned against you and made your skills and knowledge redundant or you are doing very well financially, but intuit that the pace of change and its direction cannot go on without disaster, something needs to change. The best way to build an economy that values the individual while helping your community and environment is to is to turn your back on consumerism. By doing this you are actively helping to destroy those forces that are ruining our world and in some cases our livlihood.

If, for example, you are an older person that has played by the rules and who has become redundant in the new global economy, you have several choices. You can seek out a minimum wage job, or two or three of them as some must, and if you are lucky enough to find one, wear the corporate clown uniform and slowly starve to death as you perhaps die for lack of affordable medical care. Or, you could learn about economic self-sufficiency in your community and get out there and become part of it, thus helping not only yourself and your neighbors but taking away money and power from those that have turned on you.

Consider this alternate vision. You belong to a growing circle of neighbors and friends that have the time and inclination to work together and create a better community. Your economic and personal choices have meaning and make things better for yourself and others. You raise your own vegetables. They're fresh, delicious and cost you little. You have the time to do the things that you want. The Gross National Product goes down because you're not spending as much money to buy food and more things. This is a small example of the kind of change that overcoming consumerism can bring.

The Ponzi Scheme economy.

The key weakness of the really big players who profit from consumerism is the oversupply of goods produced and their need to generate more demand financed by more credit that pays the current debt on past purchases. They are locked in a death spiral of having to seek ever more markets, ever cheaper labor, ever more capital to facilitate ever more efficient production with fewer and fewer workers. Meanwhile there is less and less money in the hands of their potential customers. The bubble is bulging and will soon explode.

This is why they spend billions of dollars on advertising that begs you to buy their products, which were they so necessary and of quality, you would just go out and buy, the same way that you buy basic foodstuffs. This is why they facilitate credit at every step along the way, no matter what the consequences to debt encumbered people.

Personal bankruptcies in 1998: counter4.gif 1.4 K

If you are one of the economically dispossessed, one that is redundant in society, one that is scared to death for your future, than you should help to destroy the very system that has created these conditions and replace it with something better. Let's help push the system over the ever-nearer edge, out of desperation, revenge or the hopes for a better and more sustainable future. You control what you buy and how you spend your money. Computers may have replaced your job, but computers don't buy things. The system needs things to be made and bought and people to go into debt anything that interrupts that can help bring it to an end.

The system's great Achilles Heel of oversupply is nicely illustrated by some quotes from William Greider's masterful One World, Ready or Not: the Manic Logic of Global Capitalism. Simon & Schuster, 1997. If you are going to take the trouble to read one book about the economy, make this it.

Here's a 10-3-97 article by Greider discussing deflation and declining demand.

General Motors, Ford move to lower the price of buying a new car




The necessity to maintain a constant increase in the supply of money lent into existance is one of the hidden motivators behind the promotion of Consumerism by those who profit most from our economy. If there isn't a constant expansion of the money supply created in large part by consumer credit, there isn't enough money to pay back the previous debts and their interest payments. How can you borrow $1,000 at 21% annual interest from a credit card and pay it back if there isn't an extra $210 created in the economy by other people's, or your own, further borrowing? So you pay back the principle and interest and thus even more money is then available to be lent out at interest to purchase more energy containing products and services drawing more from the environment.

Where does the bank or credit card company get the money to lend you? It's basically created out of thin air, with a small percentage, (10%), required to be on deposit with the banks in the form of real assets such as your savings deposits.

Where does the real money to pay back the credit card or bank plus the compounding interest come from? Your hard work, time taken away from your life, that's where. Is a lot of money being made off this scheme? Enough, for example, to influence legislators? Is there anything wrong with this? If you want to explore this issue we recommend Billions for the Bankers, Debts for the People. these are good sites although we do not endorse all their views.

A concise article about this: Things Prudent People Should Know About Their Money and Their Future
If you want the most scholarly,in-depth and readable book on the subject, William Greider is the author most recommended. His Secrets of the Temple; The Federal Reserve and How It Runs America, is a bible on the creation of money, past and present and how banking works.

For a short online version of what this means to you the taxpayer and consumer see: have found ways to take it out of the patient population turning health care providers into "gate keepers" and second-guessing medical judgment whenever it leads to a higher degree of care that means lower bottom-line profits. It is not possible to pay annual compensation packages of $500,000,000 to CEOs, dividends to ever more demanding investors, mostly large financial institutions, and to close local hospitals without someone suffering:that someone is whomever belongs to the HMO, either through increased premiums or decreased services.

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By fighting consumerism you not only help the environment, society and yourself but you help to destroy one of the mechanisms that makes this supply of speculative debt possible: the ever-expanding money supply created through consumer credit.

The Mechanics of what you can do:

One way to go beyond consuming as few resources as possible, to go beyond paying cash and supporting only sustainable businesses, as elaborated in our previous pages:

Resistance,
Two Comparative Families,
Hands-On,

is to create a
Reduction of Demand that actually takes away from the manufacture and sales of new items used by not just you but by others as well. This can be done through selling or giving away things rescued from discard, repairing items yourself and destining items to a recipient who can use them.

See Dumpster Diving LinksThis site talks about the incredible finds that people have made and the most successful ways to get perfectly good things that are discarded.

Just as most people can't stand to see animals abused, there are some people who can't stand to see things wasted. They go out of their way to salvage, divert and rescue things so that they can be used by others. They do it not for profit, praise or personal gain, but just because they think it's important.

One small example; if you have worn-out 80 pairs of shoes in your life so far, yet you have salvaged 100 useful pairs of shoes by arranging repair or preventing them from being discarded by others and you have provided these to those who can use them, you would be not only making up for the 80 pairs of shoes you have consumed so far, but would also be taking away from the manufacture and sale of 20 pairs of shoes that someone else would use.

Create a Reuse Shelf or Box in some heavily trafficked area around the dumpster or trash cans of your house, apartments, trailer-court, boat dock, or school. Place things there that you don't need anymore or that need repairs you're unwilling to perform.(label it if it doesn't work).

Another example: Year after year you rescue small amounts of building materials from being discarded. Decades go by. You build yourself a simple house. You may end up using less than you have salvaged and provided to others.

The activities mentioned in the paragraphs above are seemingly simple and innocuous but in reality are highly subversive and in the aggregate do wonders for a community and actually do hurt the power structure of those that profit from consumerism.

It is theoretically possible to thus make up for all the material that one has used up in their life and perhaps to even go beyond that amount--it will take a lot of work and time however.

You will never make up for the approximately 22 pounds of Carbon Dioxide that you create for every gallon of gas that you burn in a car unless you plant a huge number of trees. The following shows you just
How you can easily raise and plant trees.



Sooner or later you may want, or have to, raise your own food.
You can grow most of what you eat, even in a city.
City farmer site

Learn more about homegrown and organic agriculture crops and plants
Don't panic, go organic


If you don't want to grow your own, consider a
"subscription farm."



A most useful page of things that you can build and do with your own hands

We don't always take ourselves too seriously: some of the following is fun and can get the attention and fear of those that promote and profit from consumerism.:

From Britain comes National Call In Sick Day and Shop Now Riot Later

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Print graphics like this one from this link:

Billboard Liberation

and 

The Art & Science of Billboard Improvement

a comprehensive guide to the alteration of outdoor advertising

 


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RTMark.com "A privately held corporation designed to maximize projects of public interest that non-violently sabotage or subvert corporate interests. Sabotage projects are arranged into popular mutual funds that offer high cultural divendends with risk levels tailored to diverse market sectors and hide behind RTmark's corporate veil....etc"It takes a while to realize the genius of this site...watch the videos, you'll understand.


Some examples of radical anticonsumerism:




Why should one go through 80 pairs or more of shoes by the time they are an adult? Consider obtaining a pair of super-durable, car-tire sole Huarache sandals. These are hand -made by people living in rugged rural areas of Mexico that would quickly wear out the manufactured shoes that they can't afford anyway. You will be wearing footwear made of scrap leather and tires ordinarily dumped in a ravine or burned. This will obviate the manufacture and disposal of at least 25 to 30 pairs of athletic type shoes or many pairs of even good quality resoleable shoes. Consider using pieces of car tire instead of factory replacement soles or heels on shoes that need resoling. If you want to work with this material yourself, find a tire that has been dumped in some green area or obtain one from a tire store's scrap pile and carefully use a sharp knife to cut the tread away from the sidewalls. (Tires must be cord, or "bias ply", NOT steel belted). Shoe repair shops with skilled workers and good equipment can use this material to resole or re-heel shoes.

A few of our group's personal examples.

*In the Mid 1960's, Lucy H. would go "mousing" through the back alleys of Beverly Hills and Westwood on garbage nights. In these very affluent communities she would find many items of furniture, etc that she would place in her car. Her friends thought her most peculiar. Every few months she had a large garage sale. After a few years of this she had enough for the downpayment on a small house in Laurel Canyon, a very nice section of town. Many of her friends are still renting decades later.

*In a forty-unit apartment building where one of us lives, people throw away many items of clothing and household items. These items are usually left in bags too large to fit into the garbage chute, and so are easily accessable. The items are boxed up and given every few months to the Salvation Army . (Their original mission was soul salvation, we use them to salvage things).

*We post lists of household items that we don't want around our neighborhood. We give them to anyone that wants them in exchange for some item that they no longer need. We usually end up with fabulous things more numerous than that given away. The triumph of obtaining some wonderful tool or piece of furniture, given gladly by a former stranger, now made a friend by the transaction, makes the use of the item doubly sweet. After all, any fool can go out and spend money to buy things.

*We pass by a bakery that throws out plastic five-gallon buckets late at night. We regularly stop and grab them before the garbage trucks arrive. We give them away to anybody who stops by our garage when we're working in it. In the last few years we've rescued over a thousand buckets and have probably prevented the sale and manufacture of as many store bought pails and buckets. Insects? There is so little food value in the factory food ingredients that are shipped in the buckets that we've never seen an insect that would go near the buckets. (Nor by the way have we ever found a dog that will eat "food" sweetened with Aspartame or Equal)

*In our community, debris box contents are routinely recyled. When we encounter metal items that are about to be landfilled, or are found in along roads etc, we pick them up and add them to the junkyard at the back of the garage. When a debris box is spotted nearby we place the metal in it knowing that it will be recycled.


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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

We welcome suggestions for additions, comments or further resources. Use the e-mail address below.

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