Why is it so hard to reduce the stuff we surrounded with? All the things laying around where we live, that accumulates everywhere and that never really seems to dissapear.Even if you decide to give away some of your stuff – let’s say to charity – things are still complicated. Let’s take the example of clothes. A Oxfam report shows that 50% of the clothes bought in Africa are second-hand. You read right: bought. Second-hand clothes is first of all a business, a 1 Billion Dollar business. “Critics say the billion-dollar trade risks swamping fragile domestic textiles markets, and 12 countries in Africa are among 31 globally that have now banned their import.” The women cited in the Guardian article explains that the only way out for local clothes makers is to concentrate on the muslim community – where there is one. Here’s a nice story on how things could be changed on the second-hand clothes market. But really, things are easier if you reduce consumption in the first place.
And then there’s plastic. Everything is wrapped into it and shopkeepers still LOVE to hand us as much of that stuff as possible. But things can change. Beth Terry has done it: she’s become plastic free. “While laid up after surgery, she read an article about the staggering amount of plastic polluting the oceans and decided then and there to kick her plastic habit. Now she wants to teach you how you can too.” She wrote a book and has a homepage you can visit to find out more.
Friends of the Earth is therefore asking people: what really makes you happy? “For many people, the urge to earn and buy more translates into longer work hours and more stress. And that means less time to actually enjoy life with family and friends.” So they tell us: consume less, live more. Simple, right?
And this is going beyond your own happiness of course. “What we need to really find for the future is the contraceptive for overconsumption,” says Mother Jones environmental correspondent Julia Whitty. She explains it with a very interesting paradox: “The greatest way to slow population growth is to reduce poverty. But the greatest way to run out of resources is to increase wealth. And this is what we face as we move forward is how to balance these two issues.”
And finally I’m going to leave you with the following TED talk:
Picture part of Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of Mass Consumption by Chris Jordan.