I was on the phone with a friend on Black Friday and we asked ourselves ‘isn’t this about the time of year for Buy Nothing Day?’ Neither of us had heard or read anything regarding this. If you had never heard of Buy Nothing Day, it's the day designed to raise awareness about our consumer-based society by encouraging everyone to simply not buy anything. So here we were, two rather informed environmentalists (by most definitions) and we were not aware of when Buy Nothing Day was supposed to be. Clearly, the whole notion of people not buying anything at all for one single day of the year has been buried by the corporate owned mainstream media. It’s bad for business.
Our entire way of life is based on consumption. If we stop buying stuff, even by a mere 5%, the entire economic machine will take a huge hit. Job losses, diminished corporate profits, reduced government revenues and services and economic upheaval of all kinds will befall western civilization. That of course would be the underlying message from the powers that want to keep on shopping.
Yet, the only way to really live sustainably is by doing just that, buying less. MUCH less. No plan that calls for the “greening of business” will work because when it comes to resource consumption, nothing is "all green". Every consumption or purchase of good carries some transportation with it, some mined ingredient, some manufacture. The term "green" was hijacked years ago by corporate marketers looking for a new sales angle. And no amount of recycling bottles and plastic will help either. Switching from car to bicycle will barely make a ripple. I'm not advocating doing nothing but I am saying we need to mobilize the masses.
Let’s do some simple math. If it takes 3 planets to sustain our way of life then in order to avert environmental disaster we need to cut back our consumption to 1/3rd of existing. And greater cutbacks in the future to accommodate for global population growth to 9 billion in 30 or so years. No matter which way you slice it we need to drastically change/reduce our consumption patterns. In effect, we need to change how we live on this planet in the most fundamental ways. Our existing economic model based on perpetual growth is no longer suitable to our collective needs.
I know it sounds dire but our situation is dire. It is now reported that it’s already too late to avoid the greatest effects of climate change and at best we are looking at harm reduction. Some sort of “environmental correction” is part of humanity’s future.
No easy way to end this blog, we all know the problem. We are in need of several solutions.
Gilles Leclair is the founder of GeoStudios. Somewhat eccentric, fairly environmentalist, politically aware, he believes the world should have more off-grid communities... many more.