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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Stuff

I watched this video a few years ago and some things started to make sense to me.  I think it's a good video to watch around Christmastime, when we're all buying so much "stuff."

Now, I'm no environmentalist.  The environment is not what sticks out to me in this video.  It's really more of the senselessness of our economy and world system.  And it bothers me that most of the gifts my children receive are tossed aside so quickly.  They're novelties, they're not very useful, they're not lasting.  It also bothers me how many of the things we buy are poorly made and are meant to be thrown away, rather than repaired.  Did you know, people actually used to mend the holes in their socks?  But we get a hole and the sock is thrown away.

And this trend of "recycling" things to make new things (like toys and such) isn't good enough either.  It's just a slight delay to the trash.  Most of these reusable shopping bags are made from plastic bags.  When they finally get thrown away, they won't decompose.  Kids make toys out of paper towel tubes and such.  These "toys" last for a couple days and then they fall apart or the kids tire of them.

Here's a novel idea--don't buy all that stuff!  Do we really need most of it?

I'm not advocating we stop giving gifts, but think about what you're buying.  Choose things that are lasting and useful.  A friend mentioned that she was getting her son a year pass to the Air and Space Museum.  That is a fantastic gift!  It won't collect dust.  It won't break.  It builds knowledge.

I like to buy books.  The recipe cards I mentioned the other day are a great gift. I seek out things for my children that they can grow with, learn from, and use as the years go by.

It's fascinating to me to read the Little House on the Prairie books (Laura Ingalls was a real person, not just a television character).  I recall in one of the books, Laura and Mary each received a new tin cup (they had had to share up until this time), a little heart-shaped cake, a peppermint stick, and a shiny new penny for Christmas.  In another book in the series, Farmer Boy, the story of Almanzo's childhood, he got a cap, a pair of mittens, an orange (a rare item in those days), some candy, and a jackknife--with four blades!  The part that fascinates me is that these children were thrilled with these presents!  They weren't just accepting of them, knowing that this was all their parents could afford (actually Almanzo's family seems quite prosperous and Laura's family always had what they needed (my definition of prosperous).  They were overjoyed!

How did we turn into a people that needed so much stuff?  Do we really need all this stuff?

This video is is 21 minutes long, but it will make you think, so please take the time.





1 comment:

  1. Tomorrow, 1st of December, Annie Leonard published a new movie: “The Story of Cap and Trade”

    http://www.storyofstuff.com/blog/?p=72


    If you want to see how we try to make our way through consumerism here in Finland, check our site. [The English flag does not work, so click the "in English", below Categories.]
    http://provillage.wordpress.com/

    Shortly: We build a house suitable for our climate, 70 sq. meters, for less than 10.000 €.
    We put all documentation, blue-prints and DIY-stuff free on the net. There will also be a few 7/24-live cameras on the building site.


    Henry

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