[For ages we have been listening only to our needs, wants and demands. It’s time we listened to the scream of our home— the shrinking planet.]
What do we learn from the initial lessons of microeconomics? Resources are scarce and human wants are infinite. The result? A spur to a savage, cruel and depraved clash of quenching the limitless thirst for wealth in the name of wellbeing. There couldn’t have been a better reaction. All around the world, acclaimed people who are praised, and rewarded as the most successful persons are all the wealthy— enormously rich. What else could be the impact on the commoners’ minds than to start fighting for earning as much as possible?
The Shopping Temptation
Consequently, the sense of endless want created the passion for limitless buying. Then the industrialists came with newer temptations: hundreds of thousands of utensils, appliances, and gadgets that they said would make our lives easier, cozier, and more comfortable. And behind our ever elevated wants, they satisfied their avarice.
Thus, it became impossible for people to shop less.
The Scene Behind
If we have ever wondered about the whole process of the stuff we buy and later on reject, we find that the following linear process is in operation here:
extraction=> production=> distribution=> consumption=> disposal
The whole process is called the material economy. In general, this might appear to be fine, with no problem. A little more scrutinized observation, however, reveals that the process is sure to generate a crisis. This is because it’s a linear system where, in most cases, there is no recycling of the resources that are consumed. Such a linear system on a finite planet is, therefore, sure to end up in crisis.
Moreover, in the real world, this system is interacting with societies, cultures, economics, and, above all, the environment. And all along its way, causing continuous pressure on the limits of the resources. We can take the case of the first part of the process, for example. Extraction is the fancy word for the exploitation of natural resources — the devastation of the planet, in other words. We chop down trees, blow up mountains to get the materials, use more and more freshwater, and wipe out the animals. All the single actions are pushing against the limit, undermining the planet’s very ability for people to live here.
Let’s have some concrete examples. People of the USA have already used up more than 95% of their original forest. 40% of the waterways have become undrinkable. The problem is, not that they are using too much stuff, but they are using more than their share. With around 5% of the world’s population, they are consuming more than 30% of the world’s resources and, as a result, creating 30% of the world’s waste. Had every person in the world consumed at their rate, we would have needed 3 to 5 planets!
And what about global consumption?
Only during the past three decades, we have consumed one-third of the natural resources of the entire planet. 75% of the global fisheries now are fished at or beyond capacity. About 80% of the forest that existed some 800 years ago is gone.
Stop Getting Lured— the Central Strategy
Yes, and that’s the basic strategic point if we want to save ourselves and our precious future from the seemingly inevitable devastation.
The most effective solution should come right from where the problem was born. As we have stated above, most of the needs of the present civilization are ingeniously forged by the industrialists. Categories of cars, different patterns of houses, and the wide variety of everyday necessities are all designed to promote newer and fanciful wants and demands that people would never have felt otherwise.
Every day, we are faced with around 1600 commercial ads and offers. If we can just stop getting enticed by the slick ads and offers, they can, by no means, beat us. All we need is to become an observer rather than a participant. Later on, we can just avoid seeing them and be free from the risk of getting lured.
Buy Less— the Bottom Line
When we’ll learn not to get tempted, we’ll start growing the courage to buy less. Yes, it needs courage. And when we buy less, the whole deadly process that we explained at the beginning gets slow.
How would You Practice
Here are some of the useful tips that could help you buy less:
- Avoid retail seduction
- Take inventory to decide what you really need.
- Be grateful for what you already have.
- Unsubscribe from any source that is frequently coming with new ideas.
- Calculate how less you can cope with rather than how much more you need.
Benefits of buying less
And here are the benefits of buying less:
- When you are used to buying less you work less, and you save energy, time, money, and even your talent, and intellect that you can spend on other more precious activities. See how the perspective of wellbeing changes from material chase to more lofty, more humane purposes.
- Buying less will lead you to spend less. That’s another way of saving your physical, mental, and economical resources. You can then spend more on holidays and other special occasions.
- Much of our wants come from comparing ourselves with others. When you deliberately cut down on your buying, you stop comparing. This makes you feel content, just like one who has no more competitors. Getting rid of dissatisfaction means a lot.
- The practice of buying less will teach you how to fill your life with minimal resources and choose goals wisely. Once you get used to it, you’ll be surprised to see how people fall for unnecessary stuff again and again.
- The less you consume, the more you contribute to a healthy environment. Less consumption will lead to less production, less toxic by-products, and fewer waste materials.
- Buying less can put an end to ‘consumerism’, a powerful cultural force that is inflicting damage on our planet.
The experience of buying less will vary from person to person. But the result of a united mass mind shift will simply save the world from early and unwise destruction.