Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Story of Stuff

I just watched The Story of Stuff thinking it would be more of the same, but I was actually pretty impressed -- it's very well made and well explained. The message is basically BUY LESS. It's a great change from the "vote with your dollar" paradigm, which is a patronizing and capitalistic point of view that again reduces people's political power to how much they are worth monetarily.

Of course it's true that it's always better to buy local, environmentally friendly products despite these being rather more expensive, but by saying "buy less" you still mean these things, without having to stick to the idea that you are what you buy. It also helps people realize that by buying less things you will probably be more likely to afford greener, better-for-you things. Face it, we don't need all this stuff. Most people in North America don't even need to eat nearly as much as we do now, yet we still try to maximize the quantity of food we buy without thinking at all about what is better for us. "Buy less" is all encompassing and applies to anyone and everyone.

People who believe you should "vote with your dollar" are the kind of people who completely miss the point. They are the people who buy recycled gift paper and think they are being great for the environment. They are the people who buy an electric car but still drive to the corner store. They are the green movement's Achilles heel and we should focus as much of our energy in changing the way they think as we do in changing those still driving SUVs.

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