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The Logic of Shopping


It’s kind of funny I joked about not being dead on Friday and now I haven’t written a post in three days–or 41.1 years, depending on how you reckon it.

Like I said Saturday, for the next few posts I’ll be writing about consumerism. In case you haven’t watched “The Story of Stuff”, I’ll list what I perceive to be the most important points here. Or you could watch it. I think everyone should. I first watched it not long after it came out in December 2007, but re-watching has helped clarify my thinking on a few topics.

  1. Our economy is built on the principle of constant growth. Since we live in a finite system, with limited space and resources, this isn’t sustainable.
  2. 51 of the 100 largest economies on Earth are corporations.
  3. One-third of the planet’s natural resource space has been consumed in the last three decades.
  4. Many consumer goods are covered in toxic substances. At least four billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released by the U.S. each year. Human breast milk is now among the most toxic foods.
  5. Store prices aren’t representative of the true costs of production. These costs are externalized to disadvantaged humans and the environment.
  6. Only 1% of consumer goods are still in use six months after purchase.
  7. The average American produces 4.5 pounds of garbage a day, twice what they produced 30 years ago. This garbage is disposed in either landfills or incinerators. Incineration is the number one source of dioxin, the most toxic manmade substance.
  8. Consumer recycling is not enough to combat waste. Seventy times as much garbage is produced during production than is discarded by consumers.
  9. A new system is needed, based on sustainability, equity, green chemistry, closed-loop production, renewable energy and local living economies.

As Leonard states in the video, the entire abusive system is supported by one thing–shopping.

People shop for all sorts of reasons. Purchases are made because buyers believe they will bring enjoyment or social status. We’re told consuming stimulates the economy. We buy things to replace the shitty broken things we bought a few months earlier. We’re expected to buy stuff to give others on holidays. We buy things that are in fashion, and we chuck things that aren’t.

According to the logic of our society shopping defines us and makes us happy.

You’d have to be batshite to think otherwise.

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