What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 16 August 2008

The tyranny of Consumerism - by Robb

thanks to Ms Money Savvy for the image

Free yourself from the tyranny of Consumerism!

Consumerism is consuming the planet. Consumerism depends on the debt economy. If you can't afford it without credit, you can't afford it. Don't buy on credit, use your resources to get out of debt as soon as possible. Be a citizen not a consumer.


There is freedom in getting out of debt. Freedom can mean having the choice to spend your resources in the local economy and on sustainability, choosing how and when to work, spending time in your garden rather than in an office funneling the wealth of your effort and your community into the hands of stockholders outside of your neighborhood. As the productiveness of the workforce has increased the benefits have not gone to the workers but to stockholders and CEO's salaries. The working poor consequently get paid less in inflation adjusted income and have to use credit cards and mortgages to meet their needs. Their problems are exacerbated by consumerism, the drive to own things that don't enhance their financial, environmental, or spiritual sustainability; in fact consumerism degrades sustainability.

What can I do?

As more of us discover the freedom of debt free living and tell our friends, families, and neighbors about it we will naturally have more time to re-connect with our communities,our neighbors and our families. This builds sustainability and resilience into our community. Reducing consumerism to help get out of debt has direct benefits to the sustainability of the planet because we consume less of it, whether in the resources needed to manufacture all the crap we normally fill our homes with, or the resources and pollution associated with transporting it to the market and the transport involved in shopping for it. There are also the waste streams involved in the manufacture and end of life disposal of all that tat, the implications of employing poor people in that effort rather than in sustainable employment which rebuilds their local economy rather than exporting it's resources up the food chain of corporate greed. The sooner that model is replaced with a more just and humane one the better. If we wait for peak oil and climate change to force the issue the suffering will be much worse. It is our choice.


If you are deeply in debt, find a way out. Get free credit counseling, cut up your credit cards, shift more of your resources to paying down the principle. My rule of thumb is if you must borrow, never borrow more than you can comfortably pay off in a year, never borrow again until you have paid that first loan off.

Home - Get off the property ladder. If you have a home and a mortgage, make the home as sustainable as possible to save money, pay off the mortgage ASAP and don't get another one until you can pay cash.

Transport - Do without a car if at all possible, don't even own one. If you must then don't buy it on credit, buy a used high mileage vehicle and drive it a little as possible.

Food - Grow as much of it as you can, get an allotment, grow on your windowsill if that is all you've got. Buy in bulk, cook from fresh ingredients, don't waste food as that is the same as putting money in the bin, use that money to pay off your debts.

Fashion - Avoid it, buy practical multipurpose clothing from thrift shops, wear everything until it wears out. Avoid jobs that require constant fashion upgrades.

Electronics - No subscription services that don't directly enhance your ability to increase your self sufficiency; no satellite or cable TV, no cell phone monthly contracts, no expensive software upgrades that also require hardware upgrades, use your electronics till they die. Don't buy time wasters like gaming consoles, home entertainment systems, giant TV's, or even cell phones. I would argue that an internet connection can be productive but that depends on how you use it.

Housewares - Prioritise your needs; for example, is a new kitchen, assuming you can afford it (see rule of thumb above), going to save you money or would that money be better spent on a solar hot water installation. Avoid luxuries, redefine luxury as anything that doesn't contribute to your sustainability.


For an article about studies linking depression in children to consumerism see:
For an articles about debt and the economy see:
For models of economic sustainability see:

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