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Too Much Stuff

By Karen Bowley, Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Health (WATCH) and Wooragee Landcare

We all have too much stuff! Consumption has become our way of life. We, along with many other Western countries, have become a nation of consumers.  In the USA, for example, 99% of stuff purchased has been thrown out within 6 months. For examples of consumption and waste, have a look at The Story of Stuff at www.storyofstuff.org

We now consume twice as much as 50 years ago, when thrift and resourcefulness were valued, compared to today where we tend to value those who can and do consume the most.  We are seduced by constant advertising to buy the newest TV or computer. Today we are told it is the primary purpose of the economy to produce more and more for us to consume and, if we are not consuming, the economy will fail.  We have goods which are intentionally designed not to last. This is called “planned obsolescence”. We also have “perceived obsolescence” when we throw away stuff that is still OK but is not in fashion or doesn’t work as fast as we think it should!  We are told we must keep buying to be valued.

In order to get off this consuming roundabout, to save our planet which is being depleted and polluted at a frightening rate, we can give gifts that will not break or collect dust.  For example, we could give a gift that gives an experience such as cooking, dancing or music lessons. Or maybe a ticket to the theatre or a gold pass to the cinema. My niece, Monique Bowley, has enthused me for these kinds of gifts.

Monique has suggested that we consider giving a gift voucher for a massage, a facial or pedicure to refresh us for the coming year.  And then there is the gift of food or drink which you can make with love.  You could make a bottle of homemade lemonade, or special homemade chocolates or Christmas biscuits.

And there is now the gift of giving to charity, whether it be buying a goat for a child in a third world country or donating to the Australian Conservation Foundation to save an endangered species of parrot or turtle.  We can download music or a book to give as a gift. 

We can still give and receive this Christmas but, by using our imaginations, we can do it without accumulating more stuff!