March 20, 2018

Justifying Overconsumption

Overconsumption hurts everyone. It can not be justified.

Getting people to buy stuff they don't need is very profitable. Therefore, hundreds of billions of dollars is spent every year to get us to want things we don't need. Needs are altered by this well funded marketing machine, and over time we come to need some of the things we didn't used to need.

In order to keep the whole con going, wants must become needs. Consequently, consumer culture comes up with all kinds of ready made excuses for our high consumption buying habits.

We are enabled by insidious advertising slogans. Remember "Shop till you Drop"? Or "Whoever dies with the most toys wins"?

Wow, those are sounding pretty dumb in 2018.

So how do we live with ourselves when that voice deep inside gives us the reminder that to use more when less would suffice is a crime against the Earth and everything on it? We make excuses in order to perpetuate our ongoing denial.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

- “I deserve it.” No, you really don't. You deserve food, clothing, shelter, love, freedom, and opportunities to realize your true potential as a compassionate human being, and nothing else. No one deserves to take more than their fair share of the planet's resources.

- “I work hard.” As Marla commented here on Inter. Women's Day, "If working hard was the only factor, African women would be billionaires." Yup. So you work hard. Way to go.

- “I would die without it.”, or "I would rather die without it." No, you won't die without bacon. Or a car that goes 300km/hr. Or an exotic vacation. You might wish you were dead for a while, but you'll get over it. Really.

- "If I don't buy it, someone else will." Not necessarily. What if more and more people stop buying things they don't need? Manufacturers will stop making them. The Earth will smile.

- "I will look poor if I don't have lots of stuff." No. But you might look like a minimalist. Still, I would rather look poor than look selfish and out of touch with ecological reality.

- Who wouldn't want nice things?" The best nice things are not things that can be bought. If the nice things you have all come from stores, you might want to reassess your actual quality of life.

- "I can afford it." But our planet can not. Neither can the millions of people living in poverty. Or wildlife. Or our forests. Or oceans. You might be able to afford it, but We can't.

We should not be justifying our poor consumption habits this late in the game. Today, there are no innocents. Information is too easy to access, and we can all easily learn the facts surrounding how our excessive consumer habits are fuelling ecological crises around the planet.

There are no longer excuses, only lame excuses. Wealth does not change the fact, or amount, of your fair share of resources. To expect more, with this many people on the planet, is an unhealthy obsession fuelled by a dying culture of "more at any cost or consequence".

In 2018 one can no longer justify engaging in a lifestyle that needlessly wastes valuable resources in an orgy of overconsumption. We know it doesn't make us happier, so the logical solution would be to stop doing it.

As soon as possible.

For everyone's benefit, including your own.


  1. I love this post. I actually swear at adverts they irritate me so much. I especially dislike perfume and car adverts. Grrrr

    1. Franny and Danny,

      Car ads are the worst. I saw one once where a small child left its mother on the street because the child saw that another mother had a "better" car. Disgusting to use something so precious as a child's love to pressure people into buying cars.

  2. Amen. I have pretty much stopped shopping for all the reasons above. 'There are no innocents' you are so right. There are also very few shopping experiences that do not have victims. This is something I cannot get out of my head. I do shop a bit. Mostly second hand. Occasionally I buy something new after much deliberation. But on the whole, I just don't. It used to be difficult not to buy things, but staying out of shops helps, and away from internet shopping. And not having a television also helps. Plus an ad-blocker. All these measures make my life much calmer and richer, and also, I don't have to work as much now that I hardly spend any money. Win, win :)

    1. Jo,

      I think the less one buys the easier it gets. Staying away from adverts definitely helps. I prefer the "calmer and richer" life.

  3. “I deserve it.” No, you really don't. You deserve food, clothing, shelter, love, freedom, and opportunities to realize your true potential as a compassionate human being, and nothing else. No one deserves to take more than their fair share of the planet's resources

    I feel that I deserve to have my life on my own terms and and if I purchase something ,nobody has got rights to tell me what I deserve or not,same if somebody tells me BUY. Saffron

    1. Saffron,

      Sometimes, in our system, realizing your true potential requires one to purchase things. Each of us must decide for ourselves what those requirements are.

      However, robbing future generations of their birthright just because one wants to consume conspicuously, can not be justified, or excused.

      As you point out, each of us must decide for ourselves. Right now the balance of power lies with the corporations, marketing firms, and advertisers. I try to provide some balance for that with my blog.

  4. Anonymous3/21/2018

    I found that once I stopped shopping I ended up hating going to stores, so when friends want to have a day of shopping I usually have to decline...unless there is a bookstore of a fabric store where we are going...and anymore there usually isn't.
    I don't watch TV, I have an Ad blocker and I don't buy magazines. I have another plus also, we no longer get mail delivery to the house we have community mailboxes (courtesy of Canada Post)
    We just put any junk mail we get right back into the mailbox...sometimes we write on "return to sender" so the company has to pay postage.
    Most times I don't even know what friends are talking about as the rave over the latest gadget.

    I do try my best to bring folk onside but it's a tough battle.


    1. Marie,

      We have a community mailbox, too. It provides me with a nice 8km round trip big ride, and I can glean out junk mail before it crosses my threshold.

      You are courageous to try to bring folks onside. We are trained and browbeaten to live high consumption lifestyles, and that is difficult to overcome. I thank you for your efforts.

  5. Anonymous3/21/2018

    A very refreshing post, and I love all the comments.
    I find that when I go for a spell without spending money on wants, the wants go away. Miraculous! I've come to think of shopping as a muscle - when it goes unused, it gets much, much weaker.
    I prefer to exercise my reading, laughing, writing, drawing, walking, cooking, spending time with loved ones and my dog muscles. :) -Erin

    1. Erin,

      The wants DO go away. Yes, yes, yes. Liberation from superfluous things is possible, and feels wonderful. To not be controlled by your desires feels good.

      And how could recreational shopping possible compete with your list of things one can do instead?

  6. We're packing now in preparation for moving. Even though we did a MASSIVE declutter a few years ago when we moved here, I'm still horrified by how much crap we still seem to have. I also think we actually have quite a bit less than many families our size and it still seems too much. Over consumption affects all of us who are privileged enough to not live on the bones of our arses. Even if we are mindful and don't want it. I'm very much hoping we will have slightly fewer challenges with STUFF in a small rural town.

    1. Karen,

      Linda and I found the exact same thing. Three years ago we reduced our possessions to what we could fit into an empty passenger van. A while after we arrived we found all kinds of things that we couldn't believe we brought with us. Did someone sneak extra stuff into our van when we weren't looking?

      We are still working at it. Just today I dropped off a donation of two large bags of clothes and footwear. Slowly we are getting to what we feel is the optimal amount of things to support our simple, uncluttered lifestyle. It feels great to continue to progress toward that sweet spot.

      Good luck with your preparations. The excitement builds...


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