Thursday, 22 December 2011

What's it all about?

If you type ‘Consumerism’ into Google, the first thing that comes up is the Wikipedia entry, which begins with the following statement.

“Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts”.

For twenty eight years of my life I have bought things that I thought I needed and wanted without thinking about it too much. Over the past few years I've learnt more and more about environmental and ethical issues, but I don’t feel that my life reflects this knowledge as much as it should. I still find myself buying things that I don't really need, and shopping at places that I don't really like.

So in 2012 I'm going to attempt to live in a world of "Deconsumerism", attempting to remove the traces of consumerism from my life. I'm going to look at on what and where I spend money, and try to be more responsible with the decisions I make regarding money. It's not a project about living without money, because I don't think that's necessarily the solution - it's about being aware of what I spend and where it goes, and trying to spend it in the right way.

When you spend money or buy anything, you make a decision about where you source it from. The decision may be heavily affected by factors such as convenience and cost, but there is still a decision there. However, we seem to have lost contact with that decision. Spending money has become such an easy and consequentless act. Internet shopping means that you have no physical contact with the place where you buy the item from, and the advent of debit and credit cards means that you don’t even touch the money that you’re spending.

Added to that, supermarkets dominate the consumer marketplace, selling everything from food to insurance, clothes to electrical appliances and furniture. Instead of spending small amounts of money in lots of different places, you can now spend all of your money in a single location, with no real idea how much of that money reaches the original supplier, and how much you are paying simply for the convenience of buying all of your shopping from a single place. The oft cited fact of one in every seven pounds in this country being spent at Tesco only reinforces this trend.

There are people far more qualified to talk about these things, but sometimes we don’t want to hear an expert telling us about why we should do something – we want to hear someone’s journey – the ups and downs – the triumphs and the pitfalls. So armed with a naive sense of enthusiasm and a laptop, I’m here. I really want you to challenge me, question me and educate me as I go, and I can guarantee that you won’t always agree with the decisions that I make.

Here are some of the things I'm going to be looking at - food, waste/recycling, clothes, banking, toiletries, energy, cars, holidays... the list goes on and on. But it's not all going to happen overnight - I simply don't have the time or energy to make all the changes at once - what I want to do is make long term sustainable changes to my life, based on well researched information. Some things are obvious (e.g. giving up supermarkets), others less so (e.g. what's the best place to have my (albeit limited) savings). The aim is to cover everything I spend my money on by the end of 2012. Optimistic, yes. Crazy, possibly. Doable, we'll see.

So please follow the blog, make comments/suggestions and chat to me about it. I'm going to need all the help I can get...

1 comment:

  1. Good Luck!
    Looking forward to being updated :)