You can't always get what you want (nor should you), but hopefully you can get what you need. How to best get what you need is a topic of heated debate here in the final throes of a failing system based on greed and planetary destruction.
A recent comment from an NBA reader prompted me to consider what we are doing on this blog, and how the ideas expressed here have manifested in our lifestyle which seeks to pull support from an economy based on selfishness, and heal the planet as a result.
A curious Cloe wonders "about consumerism, and how people can consume without buying."
"I have" she said, "some questions for you".
- How do you live without buying ? Is it with gardening?
- Do you practice swap?
- Do you consider yourselves as consumers even if you don't buy?
Those do get to the nugget of what we have been doing on Not Buying Anything since 2008.
First of all, I would say in response, the world is structured in a way to make it very difficult, if not near impossible, to not buy anything. Having said that, it can be done, as evidenced by some very fiscally frugal and cash-creative individuals.
Simple living advocates and activists like Mark Boyle, Peace Pilgrim, Daniel Suelo, Heidemarie Schwermer, and others in the GiftEconomy, are on to something that makes for a worthy goal - living without buying anything.
Having said that, over the past few years we have severely curtailed the amount of things that we buy. The most important thing we do in that regard is limit our desires. Most things are not worth having. We rarely buy things other than those that we actually NEED.
To reduce how much we have to buy anything, we engage in a variety of practices, including:
- make things last by using gently and regular maintenance/cleaning
- avoid anything not reusable/repairable
- repair things to extend their lifespan
- use things up - no upgrades, new and improved, or latest fads
- don't pay for anything we can do ourselves
- make as much as we can with our own hands
- do as much as we can with what we already have
- acquire things for free (free stores, swapping, liberating from the trash and curb side, trade/gifts)
- grow as much food as possible in the back yard... or front yard, side yards, too
- trade work for items needed
- share, share, share - participate as a generous giver, and receiver
- enjoy community and family
- cook from scratch using wholesome vegetarian ingredients
- we take really good care of our teeth and general health
In the event we can't source things for free, we look at buying second hand first. Buying something brand new at full price is a last resort, and such a purchase is always preceded by a period of sober hesitation. No binge buying here.
Some consumption, whether through commerce or by participating in an alternative economy, is necessary for survival. We are all consumers, but we don't have to be Consumers. We could decide to create a system based on generosity and good will that ensures that everyone is getting what they need.
So, Cloe, we are still buying things, but as little as possible. Thank you for posting your questions. Remember to eat well, brush and floss regularly, and exercise mind and body. May you, and all NBA readers, get what you need with as little buying as possible throughout the New Year.