Take a stand against our everything, all the time world

I felt like pizza a couple of nights ago, so I logged on to the pizza store’s site, placed my order and had it home delivered. Wonderful!

But often when I want pizza (which is all the time), I’m out in the boonies and it’s over 35 miles to the closest pizza joint (who don’t deliver), with much of that over unsealed and unlit roads, so I usually settle for some canned stew instead.

The stew doesn’t satisfy my pizza cravings by any means, but it doesn’t hurt me either. My reward is to be able to stand outside and gaze at the night sky in awe of the multitude of stars thanks to the absence of light pollution. The tradeoff is more than worth it as convenience can come at a very high price.

When I was growing up, very few businesses were permitted to trade on a Saturday afternoon or Sunday. On those days, it was if humanity was taking a deep breath.  As for banking, forget it – if you didn’t have your cash by 4pm Friday, that was it until Monday unless you had a checkbook. Then credit cards became easier to get and more widely supported, ATM’s started dotting the landscape and deregulation of trading hours was introduced.

We now have access to everything basically, all the time… but what does this hyperconsumption cost us and the environment?

One of the very few things I like about the city is the convenience. However, cities are all about consumption, for most people anyway.

Take away that ability and ease of consuming stuff and a city and surrounding suburbs would soon become a hell-hole for many folks. Consumption is quite a clever way to control the masses.

In the country, people tend to make do with what they have, making their own fun. Trips to the city are planned to maximize the benefit.

I think that often country kids only feel that they are missing out as mass media and the same media being relayed through their peers tells them so. Once those kids have grown up, many will reminisce on the “good old days” out in the country. Even country life is rapidly changing thanks to the Internet – it’s so much easier for us to buy things and have them delivered. This is not always a good thing.

The movie The Matrix wasn’t as far fetched as most people think. Our lives these days are directed experiences, directed at the hands of marketers. I haven’t come across too many people who are resistant to it, no matter how much they think they are.

These marketers tell us we should be able to have everything, all the time and if we don’t consume, we’re somehow less of a human being because of it. These messages subtly influence us to do the things we don’t really want to do – anything from spending 2 bucks on a product we really don’t want, to buying gifts for people that will never use them, to working horrendously long hours to obtain something that at the end of it, we find it’s below our expectations after a brief buzz. That’s rather sad.

Make a stand, deprive yourself of some stuff and resist impulse buying – it’s not about dressing in cassocks and penance, but about sustainability and it doesn’t have a negative experience.

Even voluntarily depriving yourself of one thing on the basis of sustainability, multiplied by millions of people doing the same is a good thing for the environment.

While my self imposed pizza deprivation could be viewed as a negative to me as I *really* like pizza and could (and have) eat it seven days a weak, anticipation of a goal is half the thrill of achieving it. It’s also taking back some of my power as a consumer by not buying something that’s not particularly good for me.

When I do finally get to have a pizza at the end of the trips outback, darn it tastes good :).

We have Earth Hour where we deprive ourselves of electric light for an hour. We have Buy Nothing day where we purchase nothing at all for 24 hours, only to buy it the next day. Perhaps we need a Defer Something *week* where we give up a regular purchase of a non-essential item during that time frame; something we would have bought and something we won’t just double up on the next week. It’s good training for a time when we may not have a choice.

“But the economy! We need to stimulate the economy!” I hear. Well, I think we’re now at a point where we need to face the fact that without a healthy environment, there cannot be a healthy economy and work an economic recovery from there. Even by deferring the purchase of something non-essential and perhaps spending more on a better quality, more environmentally friendly essential item; it’s not as though cash is being pulled from the economy and it will encourage more companies to head down the green path.

We’ve had our period of gluttony; it’s time for change; getting by on less of what we don’t need voluntarily before it becomes forced upon us. Not only will it help us to appreciate what we do have more and encourage us to look after what we’ve got, it’s better the short sharp shock now than an extended misery for future generations.

It boils down to a saying said to be rooted in Native American (Cree) philosophy.

“Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten”.