We're overdue for a shift toward a more just, cooperative     and ecologically sustainable culture. If not now, when?          _______________________________________________

                          *  Shopping 101 *                                                             ___________________________

      Here's a few sensible Consumer Basics we can live by:

      * Buy less   "Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, Do Without"

        * Buy in bulk  -  it's cheaper, conserves resources, and cuts down on mountains                  of packaging waste.

      * Buy local  - support your local homegrown economy. Shipping food and products                around the globe generates substantial greenhouse gas emissions, and will                             become less and less feasible as oil supplies diminish.     

       * Buy smart  - research your purchases, and buy well-made items that are long                   lasting, durable and repairable.You might spend a little more to purchase good                         quality products, but you won't need to replace them as often.

       * Buy reusable products: disposable products generate more waste than                       reusable products, such as - cloth diapers, cloth napkins and towels, rechargeable                 batteries, and returnable beverage bottles.

        * Buy products or packages made from recycled materials:                            Purchasing recycled content products helps support the recycling industry by                          providing a demand for the materials we place in our recycling bins.

     * Buy secondhand - There are enough recyclable consumer goods out there to                 last us well into the foreseeable future.

       * Buy seasonal, organic produce. No harmful synthetic chemicals, pesticides             or genetically modified organisms are used. Seasonal produce is usually plentiful,               cheaper, and fewer resources have gone into growing it. Plus it tastes great and has               a higher nutritional value.

       * Buy whole, unprocessed foods that are low on the food chain.                 It takes way more energy to raise cattle and pigs, than grain, beans and produce.                   Reducing your meat intake is one of the most powerful things you can do to reduce                 your impact on the environment. Methane emissions from animal grazing, is one of                 the largest  contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

     * Barter for the goods and services that you need and want.

                  (with help from "Living Simply With Children" by Marie Sherlock)



Honestly, it takes some serious self education to disentangle ourselves                        from the message that's woven into every fiber of our culture.      


It was not so very long ago, that we had an economic system based primarily on meeting  our basic, everyday needs. And then back in the 1920's, industrial consultants created the  "gospel of consumption" - "the notion that people could be convinced that however      much they have, it isn't enough."   (Jeffrey Kaplan - Orion May 2008)

Here and now, in the post-modern world, we've left necessity and thrift behind with the horse and buggy. We inhabit a world where luxury, excess and waste are the everyday norm. We're part of a system that's based on constant growth and profit, and in order to keep expanding, it has spread it's tentacles throughout the world, and now threatens the natural world that we rely on.

Companies hire experts to observe our behaviors, and analyze our likes and dislikes, in hopes of creating lifetime "cradle-to-grave" marketing strategies that appeal to childhood nostalgia. But hey, we're smarter than all that, aren't we? We're savvy & educated - not subject to the manipulation, right ? Let's sure hope so - because the planet can't take this advanced stage of decadent materialism.

Corporations intentionally gear their advertising to grab children's attention at  younger and younger ages. It's easy to do these days, with the typical American   child watching 30 to 40,000 commercials annually. The amount of money spent in   this conscious effort to groom us and brand us - to turn us into good little shoppers     - increased almost tenfold from 1950 to 2002. Now, a decade and more later, it's        only gotten worse.

            Advertising leads us to believe that we'll be happier

                        with more income and possessions.

             Does money indeed buy happiness? 
To a modest extent, yes, rich people are happier. Especially in poor countries, such as India, being relatively well-off does make for greater well-being. We need food, rest, shelter, and some sense of control over our lives.
But in affluent countries, the link between wealth and self-reported well-being is “surprisingly weak,” notes researcher Ronald Inglehart. Once able to afford life’s necessities, more and more money provides diminishing additional returns.
Compared to 1957, today’s America is the doubly affluent society—with doubled real incomes (thanks partly to the doubling of married women’s employment) and double what money buys. Americans today own about twice as many cars per person, eat out more than twice as often, and commonly enjoy big screen color TVs, microwave ovens, home computers, air conditioning, etc. Materially, these are the best of times.
However ... having seen our affluence ratchet upward little by little over four decades, are we now happier?
We are not. Since 1957, the number of Americans who say they are “very happy” has declined slightly, from 35 to 30 percent. We are twice as rich and no happier. Meanwhile, the divorce rate has doubled, the teen suicide rate has more than doubled, and increasingly our teens and young adults are plagued by depression.

 I have called this soaring wealth and shrinking spirit                  “the American paradox.”
 In an age of plenty, we are feeling spiritual hunger.

So, what is the good life?
If it's not primarily about money and consumption, well then what?

 The good life springs less from earning one’s first million than from loving and being loved, from developing the traits that mark happy lives, from finding connection and meaningful hope in faith communities, and from experiencing “flow” in work and recreation.

Ronald Inglehart has discerned the beginnings of a subsiding of materialism and signs of a new generation maturing with increasing concern for personal relationships, the integrity of nature, and the meaning of life.

All this is good news. Those things that make for the genuinely good life—close relationships, a hope-filled faith, positive traits, engaging activity—are enduringly sustainable.

Fulfilling a new vision of an American dream need not romanticize poverty or destroy our market economy. But it will require our seasoning prosperity with purpose, capital with compassion, and enterprise with equity. Such a transformation in consciousness has happened before; today’s thinking about race, gender, and the environment are radically changed from a half century ago. And it could happen again.

Hope College social psychologist David Myers is author of The Pursuit of Happiness (Avon) and The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty (Yale).  excerpts sourced from:

   ------  recommended  ------

"The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at    the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll  make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all    the Stuff in your life forever."

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          love & determination will see us through