You better watch out

Let the annual madness begin.

Seems like the December rise in consumerism is like hay fever in spring; I get a physical reaction and strange side-effects from all the jingling bells and societal pressure to spend.  Perhaps it was two years ago I took piles of books down to the recycling depot and the tip (dump for those of you offshore).  Today I watched this. 

Then I went into my wardrobe and I proceeded to remove an entire car load of crap from that wardrobe and drive it to the recycling depot.

Mind you, I am getting better.  I have almost entirely stopped buying CDs, DVDs and books.  I am waiting for the funds to get whatever I will need to read e-books, and download music and watch movies.  There are a lot of reasons to go digital, but what has sold me is the environmental benefits.  The up side of not turning trees into paper, and shipping that paper around the world, and masses of it ending up in the bin (ditto CDs and DVDs but even more so) outweighs any of my other predilections.

The man in the clip is right.  When Cathy and I lived in Japan we lived in a space that was a third of the size of our house, and our house is considered quite small by most people’s standards (it was built in the days of large families and small houses, now the reverse is true… does this make any kind of sense?).  Living in our two room apartment we didn’t have much stuff but we were very happy.  It’s pretty liberating.

Not that I’m a Grinch.  I like Christmas. It doesn’t irk me that it’s a Christian celebration.  The story of the birth of Jesus is a good story, and positive, and a better reason to get together than most.  Shame about the capitalism.  I feel increasingly uneasy.  Even as I read through the infographic below (click on it to make it bigger) I was aware that it was only half a joke, and half deadly serious.

What can I do?

What can I do?

The problem with doing something is that you have to believe that an individual changing one very small thing about their behaviour will have an impact on a massive global problem.  Of course if it remains a solitary action it won’t have any impact.  You could do it anyway.  It might make you feel better.

To make myself feel better this year I:

  • stopped buying DVDs
  • stopped buying CDs
  • stopped buying books (but got them out of the library)
  • walked to and from work (or caught the bus when it was raining), and
  • stopped wrapping my sandwiches in gladwrap/clingfilm

The only reason I did the last one was because I was jokingly hassling a student about driving to school, and she told me off for using gladwrap (her lunch was squashed nude into a tiny Tupperware box).

After I watched the short, little TED talk about editing your life I watched the next talk on the list (they’re doing a countdown to Christmas).  It was a lot longer but featured Naomi Klein who I like a lot.  Her talk was very, very depressing, and ended with a description of the Canadian tar sands.  I have never heard of them.  Now I wish I never had.  She talked about people searching for oil in more and more obscure places and the practise of fracking.  I can only conclude from the National government’s easy-going approach to mining in National Parks, and oil drilling off the coast of  New Zealand that they too subscribe to the idea of an endless frontier.

Me?  I’ve just stopped buying crap I don’t need, and voted Green.

P.S. Here is a link to the most popular children’s toys of the last 100 years




2 thoughts on “You better watch out

  1. Over the past few years, I’ve come to realise that I don’t really need much stuff. I used to have a giant book collection, but I’ve given away about two-thirds when I realised I didn’t read most of the books. I transferred my CDs into folders (I’ve tried digitising and throwing away, but found myself strangely attached to the CDs of my late teens). I regularly go through my stuff and get rid of anything I haven’t used. I don’t buy much stuff now. It helps that I’m unemployed and trying not to spend anything. But then my mum has asked for suggestions for Christmas presents. I don’t know what I want! Nothing appeals.

  2. Yeah. I just moved quite a few CDs on, but couldn’t part with the ones I thrashed in my teens and twenties. I think buying stuff is an addiction. You get hooked on it, and it’s very hard to stop yourself, but if you ween yourself away then you wonder what all the fuss was.

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