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The Mindful Consumer

Reducing excess energy and fossil fuel consumption is not only achievable with through technological feats, but can also be addressed simply through conservation. For the March chapter meeting, our chapter Chair, Michael Nation, presented a report on his year of buying nothing new, we heard the different techniques our members have for consuming less, and watched the movie Story of Stuff to learn more about the importance of being a mindful consumer.

Michael’s project rules: For one year, he was not to buy anything new except things required for health and safety. Instead, he allowed himself to burrow, buy used, and barter items. He could have one exception, for which he chose to buy a pair of running shoes.

Michael recalls that only two hours after starting his year, he unconsciously bought 5 information pamphlets. Buy the end of the year, he had only looked at one of them. This illustrates that want is clearly greater than need. He also discovered the great deal of satisfaction that he felt from darning his first pair of socks. Everyone can expect to have a different set of challenges and rewards from this type of project, but Michael inspired us to consider experimenting with some period of time of reducing or eliminating consumption.

One of the main outcomes of the meeting is the need for knowledge of alternatives in our community to buying something new. I have listed a few ideas presented during the meeting here:

  • Check out General Salvage (a store with lots of recycle fix it options for your home)
  • Build an Office Party Supply Kit (resusable place settings for your work gatherings)
  • Use cloth instead of toilet paper
  • Write down what you consume to monitor baseline, and track progress in reductions
  • Rebind your books
  • Replace zippers on clothing
  • Give up gold
  • Remove your TV (the source more a number of advertisements to buy new things)
  • Cancel junk mail
  • Bring Tupperware to the restaurant when you plan to get take out or bring home leftovers
  • Check out the Transition Town Movement