For the global "well-off," the opportunity to press a button and have stuff magically appear at our* doors is a hard habit to quit. The rush to buy a 65-inch Roku TV for $369.99 or a Nintendo Switch Console Mario Cart 8 Bundle for $299.99 is news - not just that mobs crowd stores for bargains and camp out over computers to snag them, but the actual lists of "Best Friday Deals" is now part of the reporting for national news organizations.
As the climate crisis worsens, as wars rage on, as the gap between who can afford life and who can't grows wider, as more immigrants and refugees suffer, as the social fabric seems to be breaking down, overconsuming stuff (including food) becomes a way to seek comfort.
Stress can cause overeating. Stress can drive us to buy more and buy impulsively. At the same time, overconsumption can cause stress. And, there you have it. The engine for the sick system that is making the planet uninhabitable for most fellow creatures and our own descendants, rolls on.
At least this is what I've read.
There are other ways--sharing, reusing, finding healthier ways--but the marketing, advertising, news, entertainment, education systems pull strongly to keep us in the loop.
A start might be "mindful consumption," catching the thought that this next thing will make me feel better before the finger hits the keyboard or the foot steps into the Black Friday crowd. Will it really? Do I need it? Is there an alternative? Will I use it? Can I afford it? Being aware of thoughts and desires, and to potential consequences, might help us not "bite the hook."
The BUY NOTHING PROJECT can help make us aware of alternatives. The ANTI-BLACK FRIDAY movement promotes sustainable behaviors. Media literacy and education can help, too. Films like "Killing Us Softly" and "Advertising at the Edge of the Apocalypse" can start to deprogram us.
Wake up, help others wake up, and do what we can to pull away from the death spiral. Especially encourage educators and childcare providers to be aware of the predatory nature of marketing to children (and those who care for them). Or, maybe, promote ScreenFree Week during the first week of May.
Here are a few resources.
- La Crosse Public Library (including its Library of Things)
- Freecycle, Craigslist, and other give & take sites
- Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc.
Can we start or support? What about weekly or monthly community swap meets - give or take, no sell. What about more neighborhood victory gardens, where local, volunteer-grown food is available free for whoever needs it? What about service swaps or babysitting co-ops?
We have to change. We HAVE to change. Or else a baby born in the next few years will be unable to live as long as I will. Is that what we want?
I am trying, trying, trying, but as someone who's earliest memories include watching Saturday morning kid TV and commercials that looked like kid TV, and who spends, now, too much screen time (albeit, much of it in search of links for blog posts and letters to editors), and, while not in the top 1% but certainly in the top 5%, I am often afflicted by the mindless consumerism as well.
We have to try harder I think.