Friday, December 29, 2006

Consumer Choices

Do most people in North America and other developed countries really believe that having loads of cash, and material things will make them happier and healthier? If not, then why do many people suffer needlessly in the pursuit of material goods well beyond what they need to live comfortably?
Couldn't we use purchasing power to improve our living standards, and our neighbors by buying responsibly, so that consumerism might achieve a greater good? If we consume thoughtfully wouldn't that create a ripple effect throughout the global economy allowing scarce resources to be used responsibly with less exploitation of third world countries? Should we care about these issues? Does responsible consumerism have to be at odds with free enterprise and entrepreneurship? If we promote ethical consumer decisions can we help protect the environment, stop labor abuses, alleviate animal suffering, and push corporations to be more responsible? The making of every consumable product involves ethical decisions that impact human health and the environment, so our purchase choices have the same implications.

I marvel at my own hypocrisy as a consumer, since most of my purchases are made on a whim, out of habit, and without serious regard to their consequences. I haven't been able to divorce myself from our mass media culture that worships at the altar of material gain. Perhaps this post is a step in the right direction. Do you have a consumer philosophy that you live by?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. ~Mohandas K. Gandhi, quoted in E.F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful

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