If we want resilient, sustainable communities, we need to reduce our focus on economic growth, materialism and consumption.
While creating a less materialistic world will require major changes to our economic systems and there will be fierce opposition from many vested interested, there are also things we can do as individuals. Here are 10 ways we can reduce our consumption.
Earn less – the more we earn the more we spend. As our income increases, so does our standard of living and consumption.
Compare yourself to people worse off than you. We can always find people who earn more, have a nicer house, or go on more frequent holidays. But we can also always find people who are struggling to feed their families, who have never been on a plane, who can’t afford the necessities of life. We decide who we compare ourselves to.
Shop less, and when you have to, try to shop second-hand. It’s simple: if we shop less, we are going to buy less.
Talk about consumption with your kids. We can help our kids to be aware of the way advertisers and marketers try to make us consume more and more. Instead of falling for the tricks of the trade (e.g., buying branded products) we can talk to our kids about how companies are trying to get us to buy things that we don’t need. Our kids can be quite perceptive (for an example, see Alexa’s response to our discussion about Toy Story yoghurt).
Find friends who help you reduce your consumption. If you have friends who are not caught up in consumerism, it’s much easier to reduce your consumption. Make sure you spend time with people who are into the simple things of life.
Grow more and make more. Try growing at least some of your own food, and making things, rather than having to buy everything.
Donate more. Donate your time and money to making the world a better place.
Turn off the ads (or at least mute them). Consciously resist the power of ads and think what they are saying to us. (We sometimes talk with our girls about what the ads are trying to sell us and whether or not we really need it. This is one way of combating the persuasive power of ads.)
Buy quality that lasts. When you do buy things, consider paying a bit more if it means that it will last longer and you won’t need to replace it as quickly.
Get involved. Join with others in creating the changes we need to create a less materialist, consumption driven world.
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