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  1. #1
    Was E.laur Laurie's Avatar
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    Default Desire, Consume, Desire

    I've been thinking lately that I've forgotten the thoughts and ideas that actually mean something. When I became a vegetarian in college my mother in law gave me the "More with Less" cookbook and it made me think twice about how I conducted myself. The idea is that North Americans consume so much of the world's resources and we should voluntarily cut down our consumption. This isn't just food consumption, either. It is consumption of everything. The author mentioned that it's good that people shop at thrift stores but it's still showing that we don't wear things until they wear out.

    Sometimes I look around at the crazy things that humans spend our money on and wonder if life could ever be simple again. The big sporting events, concerts, movies. Sometimes I look at stars talking about the environment and have a hard time accepting that after wasting their money consuming the world's resources in their lavish homes and extravagant lifestyle they are trying to tell the rest of the "average" Americans to recycle water bottles.

    Reference:
    Amazon.com: More-With-Less Cookbook (9780836191035): Doris Janzen Longacre: Books
    Amazon.com: Living More With Less (9780836119305): Doris Janzen Longacre: Books

    Ironically, I feel like fight club grabs some of this idea and runs with it. It's one of my favorite movies.
    YouTube - Fight Club (1999) - Podziemy Krąg - IKEA
    YouTube - Fight Club Speech

    One has subtitles in another language and one is crappy quality. It often feels like people are forever chasing something they won't ever catch.

    "It seems to me, the more you have, the more you have to have to take care of the things you have." Something I heard on a kid's radio program years ago. Ironically I found the quote on a couple websites. I guess it didn't just stick with me.

    Anyone else in a quest to move away from consumerism?

  2. #2
    Habitual Fi LineStepper JocktheMotie's Avatar
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    It's tricky because on one hand I do think we'd all be far more fulfilled and content if we [as the american culture] tossed away the idea that "stuff will make us happy". On the other, it's tough for me to say that because I know I'm very much guilty of having a similar mindset [why hello thar core i7 impulse buy]. However, on the gripping hand, I think there is a difference between enjoying the fruits of increased technological prowess and an upgraded standard of living, and filling personal voids of unfulfillment with "stuff" to make one feel better. As a culture I think we might be veering more towards the latter at the moment.

    But I would be remiss as a finance guy not to mention that I think if Americans stopped buying stuff, it'd probably be a net-negative effect on the numerous countries that "feed our need."

    It's a bit of a catch 22.



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elaur View Post
    It often feels like people are forever chasing something they won't ever catch.
    Precisely. I completely agree with this.

    Personally, I'm not exactly the model of anything, I can definitely be impulsive with consuming at times. But I don't really bend over backwards to move away from consumerism, I think I never really got into it "properly". So, I don't feel the desperate need to restrict myself when I decide to buy things. I simply know that I don't need all the junk that's out there even if I can afford it. When I've observed people going crazy over all the useless things (in my opinion) during "bargains" I really have no desire to buy anything after seeing that. I don't place myself on a higher pedestal or anything, I don't put people down for trying to find some elusive "something" in "stuff", it's just that it's kind of sad to observe when I think about the future.

  4. #4

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    Consumerism has a bigger impact than population explosion alone, although there's different reasons to oppose it, there's the "consci", ie conscientious, reasons like voluntarily cutting down so that there's more to go around but there's also the disatisfaction associated with the consumer cycle of craving and disappointment and more craving.

    Its not a simple thing to escape from, you linked two movies and began the thread with a rumination about a book, not a criticism of yourself but just an example of capitalism or consumerism can co-opt just about anything and everything, even disatisfaction or disillusionment with itself.

    I do it myself, the first thing which came to mind when I read the first post was to link The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes it Hard to be Happy: Amazon.co.uk: Michael Foley: Books, which reflects well a lot of the sentiment, suggesting that Stoicism, Zen, Eric Fromm are all good sources for a counter culture.

    Fromm's books themselves are lengthy ruminations on this dilemma, his last ones which were like sixties and seventies, right, were considering the contradictions of a keynesian economy, requiring the circulation of money and constant consumerism and the sort of culture and social character that required to reproduce itself. He suggested that trying to break out of that would be no short order, its like an addict trying to kick a habit.

  5. #5
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Perhaps one of the reasons there are so many things in thrift stores is because, hello, people do not stay the same size throughout their lives. If you lose weight, your clothes don't fit, if you gain weight, your clothes don't fit. So you sell it to a thrift store so maybe someone who is the right size will find them.
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

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    full of love Kingfisher's Avatar
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    i like to consume less also. to me it is really rewarding when i use something to exhaustion, use it until it wears out.

    i am really amazed a lot of the time when i hear people talk about things they've bought - people talk about replacing some things on a yearly basis and more often, and to me those same things should last a decade or more at least!
    sometimes i wonder if people are unable to find happiness with what they have, or don't see the value in things, or what it is. i don't know, i don't understand it.

  7. #7
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    Leo Babauta runs a couple of good blogs, Zen Habits which touches on the concept, and mnmlist, which is pretty much all about that concept.

    Gonna have to look at the other references in this thread.. they look interesting

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingfisher View Post
    i am really amazed a lot of the time when i hear people talk about things they've bought - people talk about replacing some things on a yearly basis and more often, and to me those same things should last a decade or more at least!
    Yes, I've observed this as well. Especially with technology stuff because there are new things coming out faster and faster. For me, if it works, it works. I take good care of my things, so they do last.

    sometimes i wonder if people are unable to find happiness with what they have, or don't see the value in things, or what it is. i don't know, i don't understand it.
    I can agree with this. I think that in most of these cases it is about seeking the excitement, novelty and satisfaction in hoarding more and more things. It only lasts for a while and soon enough you need a new "fix". It's probably also about substituting some things that are lacking in people's lives either on a personal level or whatever. The outside pressure is definitely a factor in this as well. The need to succeed and achieve a certain status through accumulation doesn't stop when you obtain the things, it's a cycle that keeps on going. It might take something really drastic that could pull people away from this cycle.

  9. #9
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    i don't really have a ton to begin with, so i think i'll acquire more stuff first, then get back to ya

  10. #10
    Was E.laur Laurie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    i don't really have a ton to begin with, so i think I'll acquire more stuff first, then get back to ya
    This made me think of a story I read in that book, More with Less. A lot of her stories come from her experience as part of the Mennonite central committee (a relief agency.) She said once she talked to a man who had one nice white work shirt. He washed it every day and wore it to work every day. She asked why he didn't buy another. He said he didn't want his second shirt to give him an attitude of being better than others. Can you imagine living with one work shirt?

    Lark: The fact that I was quoting a movie in this thread didn't escape me, that's why I used the word "ironically."

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