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Pardes Yehuda: "To go beyond recycling"

Monday, August 11, 2008

"To go beyond recycling"

CNN reports about an international community called "The Compact" that has three simple goals (according to their blog):
1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc; 2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er); 3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

As the article would have it, The Compact is about saving money. This is no small reason to reduce our consumption, but it is not the most significant message of the group's ideology. That would be, "simplify."

The group has a very active Yahoo group and their blog is a regular roll of great ways to contribute, as an individual, to bettering our world, our environment and our lives.

Their mission, in my own words, appears to be this. Reuse as much as possible. Buy local. Acquire less. Eliminate unnecessary consumer spending. How are these related? We all know how ridiculous our consumer culture has become. On my walk to the market to buy local, organic vegetables last week, I encountered a line of people outside the Apple Store (they weren't there to buy local, organic apples). They were there to spend ridiculous amounts of money on a new toy that most people were sure to be disappointed with, meanwhile making rich people even richer (and poor people poorer, by effect--that's capitalism, baby!). The Compact seeks to end the phenomenon of lines for Apples, and any other product, and would much rather you buy a local, organic apple (than an Apple iPhone.)

What we forget is that when we buy unnecessary consumer goods we enter into a cycle, and a chain of production. If you haven't seen it, The Story of Stuff will tell you a little bit about the cycle of consumerism. The Compact reminds us that it is simple to avoid being party to this destructive trend. To quote a woman referred to in the article, "You don't just go out and needlessly shop as a hobby."

By opting out of the capitalist, consumer "grid" we create a paradigm and a model for a society that is not blind to the affect of its foreign policy, which serves primarily to sustain the corporate consumerism that has grown in our country. Buying local is a way to support the US economy, and support real people. No stimulus package or tax-refund can do for our pocketbooks what localized economic habits can.

Next time you need to fill the fridge, skip the grocery store and go to the farmers' market, there's even meat sold at most markets today! Simply google "farmers' market" and the name of your town or city. The next time you need to replace some clothes, try going to a resale shop--there are high end grabs in many (if you look hard) and you're not directly supporting child and sweatshop labor. Instead of throwing away old furniture, see if you can reuse it for other things; or donate it instead of throwing it away.

For many, many more ways to step away from consumer culture check out The Compact's blog and look for the link to your community on their webpage!

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