I just finished an awesome book: Not Buying It by Judith Levine. Judith gave up consuming for one year to explore current American consumerism. She joined a Voluntary Simplicity Group (she was by far the most voluntarily simplistic of them all) and grappled with her desire for clothing, Q-tips, and going to the movies. This book is in no way a how-to book, it's a self exploration book, and I couldn't put it down. Here are some of the quotes that stimulated my brain:
"On average, someone living in a developed nation consumes twice as much grain, twice as much fish, three times as much meat, nine times as much paper, and eleven times as much gasoline as someone living in a developing nation."
"Americans make up just 4.5% of the world's population, but we use 24% of it's resources, and emit 23% of the greenhouse gases that are dissolving the ozone layer."
"In 1998 and American used 1,023 kilograms of oil or its equivalent and ate 122 kilos of meat. In the same year, his Bangladeshi cousin burned a thimbleful of fuel - 7.3 kilos - and ate a mouthful, 3.4 kilos, of meat."
"The average North American household tosses four pounds of stuff daily."
My favorite quote in the book (she is quoting Douglas B. Holt, a professor of advertising at the University of Illinois):
"In the postmodern marketplace "the 'good life' is not a matter of having a well-defined list of status goods," he writes. "Instead, it is an open-ended project of self-creation. The idea is to circulate continually through new experiences, things, and meanings, to play with different identities by consuming the goods and services associated with those identities.""
That HIT HOME! What comes to mind for me: rock climbing, camping, mountaineering, backpacking, running, hiking, sewing, scrapbooking, knitting, swimming, ice climbing, the list goes on.
And finally a little clip of her concluding remarks:
"If I am a consumer first and last, all I can do to better the world is consume more responsibly - 'buy green,' invest in socially responsible businesses, and buy less. The other choice I have is to reject consumer as my sole role and reclaim my other public identity: citizen."
In the style of "Not Buying It" I did actually purchase the book. I know it seems contradictory. But, in my defense, I did check to see if they had it at the library and they didn't. I would, however, like to pass it along to someone else to read (Amy??), possibly in hopes that someone else will read it, and highlight the sections they enjoyed, write a few blirbs in it and return it for me to gain additional insight. Any takers??