February 17, 2012

Reducing Consumption Reduces Harm

It is a challenge to consume and not do harm.

One reason I choose to live simply is so I can reduce the amount of harm I am doing. Like no trace camping, I want to leave as little damage behind me as I hike through the wonderful park of life.

Problem is, just hiking along is going to have some effect on other people and the environment regardless of how light one's backpack is. But that fact does not diminish my desire to minimize my impact as much as I can, and jettison some of the heavy stuff.

How am I contributing toward, or supporting, harmful practices? What I have learned is that the global economic machine makes it very, very difficult to avoid becoming just another cog that cranks out misery and mayhem.

Henry David Thoreau, in On The Duty of Civil Disobedience, said "Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn."

A no-nonsense way for me to be a counter-friction to the clanking, wheezing gears and cogs of consumerism is to simply consume less.

Reducing consumption reduces harm.


  1. I've never been much in the way of material goods, so reducing my cosumptions hasn't been all too difficult, except when it comes to my caffiene addiction. Once I learned about the horrors of conventional coffee practices I switched to fair trade products, but I'm not sure that's good enough. I'd love to know your opinion on the fair trade coffee industry. Is it really sustainable and fair, or is it just another way to cover up a dirty business?

    1. Debi,

      You are on the right track with fair trade products, and you are right to question them. Not all brands are created equal.

      Like so many other things, you have to do research to find out how the company operates.

      Fair trade, in most cases, is better than non-fairly traded, but in some cases the farmers are better treated than others.

      Fair trade has caught on as a marketing tool, which is why large companies such as Nestle are getting fair trade certification.

      Nestle is one of the most ethically challenged companies on the planet.

      So again, we must do research to find out the dirt on the people that sell us stuff.

      Look for companies that work closely with farmers, coffee cooperatives, and the communities where the coffee is grown.

      The following is a great site for general research on corporations and the nasty things they do - http://www.corpwatch.org/index.php

  2. Thank you, this information is extremely helpful. We usually purchase Equal Exchange, but have to drive an hour each way to get it. Our local grocery carries Starbucks, so in a pinch we've gotten that instead. After reading the article on corpwatch, we'll go without before buying anymore Starbucks.

    1. Yes!

      Unethical Corporate Model: 0

      Global Social and Environmental Justice: 1


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