Friday, February 15

Consumerism and Alternatives

Another point raised in The 11th hour is that our economy is based on consumer transactions. We buy things, consume them, and trash them. We create money at the purchase point of that transaction, and that's what we base our national performance numbers on. So when Dick Cheney says that responding seriously to global warming will harm the economy, he's talking about this kind of economy.

As the movie puts it, the problem with this is that it is an expanding system dependent on a finite resource.

An alternative economy might recognize the value created by personal interactions. In this case, we might go to a store that stocks used and re-made clothes. We know the individuals who own the store, we know that the clothes are well cared for and we're going to walk out with a great outfit. We've had the experience of being seen, being cared for, and that's what creates the value. An economy like this would use far fewer resources than even organically grown new cotton, but it would create less in the GDP scale.

The question is, can you pay the bills in one economy while earning your money in the other?


Asrai said...

It's driving me to distraction that buying better greener is seen as the way to save the planet. Buying more isn't going to help.

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NotSoBigLiving is the story of a woman inspired by Sarah Susanka, Bill McKibben, Airstreams, Tumbleweed houses, Mennonites, Jimmy Carter, hippies, survivalists, Anasazi, Pema Chodron and Joko Beck, Scott Peck, Buckminster Fuller, and Al Gore to see what she can do to reduce her carbon footprint in her mid-80's suburban townhome. Strategies include roommates, alternative travel, organic eating, planting a victory garden, mindfulness, and a belly full of laughter.