Sunday, December 11, 2005


Tis the season to buy,buy,buy. We all know nothing says I love you more than a gift. The holidays are supposed to be a time of good cheer, to celebrate life and family, to bring people together, it seems more and more it is a time that we feel the pressure to spend money to show how much we care for someone else. I had the pleasure of joining in the spending spree the other day. My girlfriend and I were on the way to do some work at her parents house, but we had to stop and get some sweet nothings for members of her family as the christmas package was going out the next day. So at 10:30 on a Saturday not less in mid December we headed to downtown Seattle to look around. Having had very little sleep I was in a subdued mood to begin with, but all the sitting in traffic, looping of the parking lots, raised my blood pressure in a hurry. All those people with their shopping bags in one hand and their 4 dollar grande mocha from Starbucks in the holiday cup no less, running frantically from store to store to soak up the sales. There we were staring at items that were made in god knows what kind of conditions, in a far away land, in I am sure an environmentally damaging way, and I had to fight the impulse to buy things, for no other reason than they were in front of me and as a human being I have been conditioned from day one to consume. Nothing says I love you like consumption of goods. Nothing makes you feel better about yourself than purchasing something new, for a minuete. I read a frigtening statisitic the other day, and I will share it with you, ready...Ninety percent of the goods that we purchase end up in the landfill within 60 to 90 days. Think about it. I'll write it again so that you dont have to reread it..... Ninety percent of the goods that we purchase end up in the landfill within 60 to 90 days. WTF. That will certainly make me think twice about my next purchase, or for that matter what I send to someone. My family has always filled out christmas and birthday lists and sounded off about what we want, we only did this to ensure that we got the gift that we wanted, but it looks to me that our selfishness if you choose to call it that, had an added benefit, we actually used what it is we were given. I can tell you this...what I buy doesnt end up in the landfill, want to know why, I really have a hard time throwing things out, my girlfriend will without my knowledge throw things away, or give them away. On the flip side think of all the packaging of goods that gets thrown out, the bags, the coffee cups we get with the lids, the reciepts, the list goes on and on. Think of all that gets thrown out in everyday life just due to the way things are packaged. When I stepped back and really look at all the thing that there is no other way to do it I am amazed, even places like Whole Foods and Wild Oats, and organic food comes in plastic wrap and packaging that not all of it can be recycled or reused. Things will not change until we as consumers and citizens demand that they change or work for them to change.

I promise I will get to the title, it just may take me a while. Here I go. I am again on my soapbox, I find myself more and more enraged with the way our society is headed right now, with all the injustices. It seems to me that we have become conplacent, we have lost our will to fight as a whole. We want everything at a low price, who cares about quality anymore, or the impact, the true impact of production, delivery and disposal. I just had the pleasure of watching Wal Mart the hight cost of low price. Blown away. It truely is scary, and I can tell you this I wont shop there ever agian. I now know too much to shop there with a clear consious. Everyone should see this movie. Lots of useful information is contained within it. We just care about the price point. Then we, as a society wonder why, things break. If we took in to consideration the true impact of what we produced and consumed things would be more expensive we think, what if it was just done that way, i.e. organic foods, organic cotton, sustainable paper, sustainable clothing, better public transportation, light rail, solar panels, obviosly I am getting a little abstact here, and I may be preaching to the choir of readers of this site, but we can all do something in a more sustainable way. Shit even the most sustainable stuff right now needs to be done with less impact, there just arent some process that have been figured out yet. We as a society are no longer seen as citizens we are seen as consumers because that is what we do. We have been so prosperous in the last 20 years that we think it will just keep going like it is, infinatly. Well that is just not the case and we are at a critical space in our development as a society, we comfort ourselves by saying that we will be able to sustain our continued growth, so why bother, well we are at a very critical time and I predict that life as we know it will drastically change to the negative if we keep consuming at the rate we do. We need to change from a cradle to grave society to a cradle to cradle society, a society that plans for reuse, not just recycling or worse sending it to the landfill. Patagonia is a company that is stiving to do this and Youn Chouinard's book Let my People go Surfing, is a great read and inspirational to boot. I suggest you read it. While you are at the book store might I suggest you pick up a copy of Gary Ericksons book, Raising the Bar.

So with the new year around the corner I challange each and every one of you to analyze how you life your life and do one thing regularly that you dont do now in the new year that is more sustainable than the way you do it now. Compost, recycle rainwater, flush the toilet less, ride your bike to work more, walk to places that you can, eat organic, volunteer to save the enviroment, buy clothing that is made in a sustainable manner, dont buy things you dont need. Change the view of us being consumers instead of citizens, buy locally, buy fresh, think about your habits, and make a small change, if we all start to do this slowly but surely the process and the movement will pick up pace and before we al know it we will be a society that only has sustainable products. Imagine that. One small step at a time. Personal responsibility, take it on. So sound off now or in the new year with what it is you plan to do differently. Peace, may the force be with you.

1 comment:

Kent Peterson said...

Another good bit of rage from you Nat. Keep fighting the good fight. If you've got a copy of "Let My People Go Surfing" can I borrow it? I don't want to add more stuff to my place, doncha know! And I haven't seen you in a while. Stop by the shop some weekend or the Bike Station some weekday AM. Actually some weekday AM would be good. I'm working at the Station in the morning and I'm off around noon most days, this month anyway. Keep spinning those pedals.