Consumerism – An Age-Old Problem

Consumerism has been around for many years, from the first department store that opened in London in 1796, to the eight-floor department store built on a full city block in New York in 1862, to the mega malls we have today.

In the early 1900s, advertising stepped in, and in the 1920s, we were offered our first credit cards.

During World War II, we were taught, briefly, to be frugal. And when that was over, we were told to buy and consume. Since then, we haven’t stopped.

People that lived before us warned about a society of over-consumption, but we have failed to listen.

Confucius once said, “The Master said, ‘A true gentleman is one who has set his heart upon the Way. A fellow who is ashamed merely of shabby clothing or modest meals is not even worth conversing with.’ ”

Ghandi told us, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”

And E.B. White stated, “To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.”

My favorite quote is the following, “I think the enemy is here before us…I think the enemy is simple selfishness and compulsive greed… I think he stole our earth from us, destroyed our wealth, and ravaged and despoiled our land.” –Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t go Home Again, 1949

I think Wolfe is right, the enemy lives among us. He has destroyed our planet, taken our money, turned us into green-eyed monsters. He is sucking the life out of every creature.

Maybe it’s time we listen to the wise words of those who walked before us. Maybe it’s time for a change.

Consumerism won’t go away, after all, we need certain things to survive. But this excessive, compulsive shopping is getting out of hand. It’s time to stop, let go of what we don’t need, and cling to what we do. When we stop the insane spending, the constant consuming, we will find benefits we never knew existed. We will find benefits of a life with less. Like these:

1. Time with family.
2. Time for ourselves.
3. Time to volunteer.
4. Less time cleaning.
5. Less time organizing.
6. Less money spent.
7. More money for vacation.
8. More money for retirement.

Let’s use consumerism for what it was intended – to meet our needs. Let’s cut the shopping, and stop the enemy, before he stops us.

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The World According to Kermit

I like Kermit for many reasons. He’s cute, his voice is annoyingly adorable, and he’s wise.

He says things like: “If life were easy, it wouldn’t be difficult.” (Profound, huh?)

And, (I love this one): “I guess I was wrong when I said I never promised anyone. I promised me.” - Kermit Click To Tweet

Mostly, I love Kermit because he is green.

Green is my favorite color. It is the color of spinach, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli (I love them all.) Green is the color of leaves on a spring tree, fresh grass, and newly cut kiwi. It is clover, a turtle, and many bugs I don’t like (but like the color of). Green is emeralds, and a forest of trees. It is a patch of basil and a field of mint. And green is Mike Wazowski. (Who doesn’t love that green, one-eyed monster?)

Green is also our planet. And green is how we care for it.

I try to be green, really I do. But as hippie as I am, and simple as I like to be, sometimes I am a lot more brown than green.

It happened the other day when I was at the grocery store admiring the fresh produce. I grabbed a few apples, a large pineapple, a bunch of vegetables, and then something caught my eye. Sitting in the middle of the store were fresh, sweet, perfectly red strawberries, encased in large plastic clam shells. It was a dilemma. I wanted the strawberries, but the plastic I could do without. I know what happens to plastic. It sits in a landfill for hundreds of years. (According to www.recycling.about.com, it takes a plastic bottle 450 years to decompose.)

I understand the need for that type of packaging when it comes to soft fruits like berries. After all, who wants to purchase a pile of fruit mush? Yet I hate the thought of tossing plastic in the trash. (Though some stores, like Whole Foods, will take them back.)

Needless to say, I bought the strawberries. Sure, I could wait until the farmers market, drive twenty minutes, sit in traffic, use gas to get there, but I’m not sure that’s very green, either. Or I could wait until berries fill the patches in the area, and go berry picking. But then, I have to drive even further than I do to go to the farmers market.

The plastic shells aren’t the only thing turning my hippie skin from green to brown. I’m still using paper towels. My consumption has greatly decreased, but they are still in our house. According to www.greenlivingtips.com, it takes a paper towel 2-4 weeks to break down. Not even close to plastic, yet, as a country, we consume a lot of paper towels. Www.peopletowels.com states that we waste over 3000 tons of paper towels per day.

There are many simple things I could do to be greener, and some I have already done. My plastic storage is almost gone, my shaving cream in a plastic container no longer exists, and I have a reusable glass bottle for my water. Yet I am still fairly brown. It’s hard in our society to be totally green. But I’m working on it.

Here are a few small things I do to make me a tad greener:
* Reusable water bottle.
* Buy produce with less packaging.
* Use less paper towels and more cloth napkins.
* Use the notepad on my phone for my grocery list (instead of a piece of paper).
* Buy loose leaf tea in place of tea bags.
* Use soap nuts for laundry. **

Just tiny steps towards a greener me. Like I said, it’s impossible to be totally green. Our lives require us to drive to jobs, our food often arrives in plastic, and piles of paper are delivered to our mailbox. Yet we can all do one small thing to make our world a little greener.

As Kermit says, “It’s not easy being green.” And he’s right. But I’m determined to keep trying.

**I am an Amazon Affiliate, which means if you purchase anything through my site, I receive a commission.

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The Start

In the beginning, well, you know the rest.

This isn’t about the very beginning, but it is about the world a long time ago (but not that long ago, really). There was a time when our world was different, when we cared for animals and our planet. There was a time of organic farming and humane treatment. There was a time when the earth was more than a place to pillage and plunder.

Along the way, we have forgotten what we once were. We have forgotten to care for animals and people. We have let money, greed, and overall selfishness take over. We lost our pride, our humanity, our ability to care for more than just ourselves.

This isn’t a guilt-thing, or a pointing-of-fingers, but a quiet reminder of what we need to do.

The attached video has circled the net for the last few years, been seen by millions of people, but its message is still the same. Enjoy.

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Fear

I fear for the next generation. For the way we have selfishly pillaged and stripped the earth of its beauty, replacing once-forested areas with oil refineries. For the way land sits idle, like a forlorn war zone, void of life.

I fear for the future generation that will never see the full glory of the earth we were blessed with. Instead, majestic mountains will be the artistry behind mounds of trash, landfills will replace fields of wildflowers.

I fear for our future, where ships that once swam easily across the sea now rise high and cast their waste overboard. Where fish now feast upon garbage, gasping and choking, dying, leaving our circle of life.

I fear for the future, for where we once breathed clean air we now breathe poisons that fill our lungs and seep into our pores. Where the winds of bygone days blew across fair plains, pure and crisp, their tails now pick up toxins that kill and destroy.

I fear for the next generation. For once we leave this earth, we will be thrown back into the heap of rubbish we have created. But the next generation, they will be left with our mess.

 

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