Being Better Consumers

By Ross Bishop

The corporations who control society are not interested in doing anything about the situation because encouraging the consumer lifestyle is the source of their livelihood! So the responsibility falls to us to do something about it. Whether we will accept that challenge remains to be seen.

Arundhati Roy wrote,

“The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.”

The corporations have taken advantage of this by creating a gadget filled, instant-breakfast consumer culture that attends to our every whim. Our grandparents and great grandparents were amazingly self reliant, but we have become so accustomed to having things done for us that the value of self-reliance has been lost on us. Can you say, “Alexa?”

The impact of each individual thing we do may seem insignificant, but in the aggregate, the impact can be devastating. Tossing a plastic bottle in the garbage doesn’t seem like a big deal, but 35 billion plastic bottles in landfills each year presents an enormous headache!

Consider a few examples: If every household in America replaced just ONE BOX of 175-count facial tissue with a 100% recycled product, we would save 385,000 trees, 140 million gallons of water and almost a million cubic feet of landfill space. From just one box of tissue!

I could go on about buying sweatshop products at WalMart, or gas guzzling SUVs, but I think you get my point. No one is asking you to carry water in a bucket, use an outhouse or churn your own butter, but many of our convenience choices have a significant impact on the planet and really don’t offer all that much in return. Your life would actually improve if you stopped doing some of them.

It is easy to throw the laundry in the drier rather than taking the time to hang it outside. But the fuel used to make the electricity that runs your drier, pollutes the atmosphere! Whereas God’s sunlight and wind are free and they don’t pollute! But that in a nutshell, is the dilemma. Hang out your laundry! It smells better, is better for your clothes and it reduces air pollution.

Eat organic as much as you can afford. It’s much better for your health and is enormously better for the health of the planet. Plus, it takes power back from the corporations that literally force toxins on us through the food supply.

Eating lots of meat is a part of our lifestyle, but eating as much meat as we do is not healthy. Eating less meat would lead to better health – and our lives are already filled with too many cancers, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, etc.

Rather than just throwing a steak on the grill, make a casserole or stir fry – there are plenty of other ways to eat less meat that have no effect at all on your nutrition. Plus, it’s cheaper! An alternative would be to go meatless one day a week. It is much healthier for your family and the benefit to the planet would be incredible!

Use eco-friendly cleaners, dish soap, recycled paper products, etc. They clean just as well. They may be little more expensive, but this is the sort of sacrifice we all need to make in order to reduce the burden of chemical toxicity and deforestation on the planet while reducing the burden on our waste water system.

Every piece of plastic that has ever been made – that you have ever seen – since you were a small child – presently sits in a landfill somewhere or is polluting the oceans. One thousand miles off the coasts of both California and New York are islands of plastic, each twice as large as the state of Texas! They foul the water and poison and strangle the fish and other wildlife. Cities used to simply dump their trash into the ocean. It was cheaper.

You know those plastic bags you put your produce in at the store? We throw a trillion of them away every year. Reuse them. And use your own shopping bags. Europeans have done this since forever.

This next suggestion is big, and it will take some work, but it can make an enormous difference in so many ways: Create a vegetable garden! Either your own or a community one. Convert some of your lawn or unused land into something useful!

It can be a significant undertaking, but it is one of the healthiest things you can do for your family and it’s a money saver! And tending a garden is great exercise, it’s fabulous for the planet, as I say, is MUCH healthier for your family and it reduces your carbon footprint significantly! Plus, it provides a wonderful learning opportunity for both you and your children!

Save your vegetable kitchen scraps (freeze them) for soup stock, or make a compost pile in your garden. It reduces the burden on landfills and is great for the soil!

Shop at your local Farmer’s Market. It’s more nutritious, reduces industrial transportation and supports the local economy. It is sometimes more expensive, but consider eating organic as an investment in your family’s health.

Take a little time to learn about the products you buy and the companies who produce them. Is your coffee or chocolate produced under slave-like conditions? Was your cell phone or running shoes made in a sweat-shop? What about your jeans? There are a number of other things you can do, search the web for ideas and look for web sites that rank corporations on their social consciousness or lack of it.

The planet and your children thank you!

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