Being Environmentally Conscious In A Consumer Conscious World.


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While I am on my way home today from Colorado, this is a guest post from my friend Adam

Madonna said it best when she said “I’m a material girl, living in a material world.” But the excesses of the 80’s and 90’s have waned, at least for the time being. We are still living in a consumer world, but we are just holding our collective breath for the day when we can consume without financial guilt.

This is a sad fact, and the world is full of them, but like all facts, there are good ones that we don’t hear enough about. One of them, I believe, is that by nature, we are all good. But it is through lack of information, empowerment and control, that we make bad decisions.

A few of the problems with the “Green” or the “Environmental” movement is that too many writers (myself included) have tried to change behavior by telling people what they are doing wrong and them telling them how to to it right. People don’t respond well to this technique up front, because nobody want to look in the mirror in the morning and think “I’m a bad person.” So how do we change the dichotomy of our message?

I’m here to tell you that we can all be good humans. I’d like to tell you that we have lost our way, and much of this is due to the fact that society has taught us that the “who I am” is based on “what I own and what I consume” instead of “what I give and what I protect.”

As a young soldier in the Military, I learned the acronym (the Military is great for using them, isn’t it?) V.B.E.C.K.S. It stands for Values, Beliefs, Ethics, Character, Knowledge and Skill. I have tried to utilize these traits while both in and out of the Military, and now they are my guiding principles when it comes to the way I live and interact with the environment around me, as well as the way I conduct myself in business and writing.

Even being good humans, it can be a challenge navigating our way through the consumer world. We must, after all, consume in order to survive. But how do we do it in a sustainable way when we must rely on the same people who are vested in making profits, to tell us what products are available for our lives? It’s a lot easier to let other people make our decisions for us, than it is to seek out and learn alternative ways of consuming and living.

One the one hand, we have the world financial community saying that one of the reasons the economy is failing is because people are not spending. When people stop spending, the economy gets worse and people stop spending even more. It’s a downward spiral. But what is it that we are not hearing?

What were not hearing is that much of the economic crisis could be averted by spending in the right places on the right products. When the economy really started to fail last year, the Bush administration gave most Americans a tax refund check to “stimulate” the economy. You may have gotten one yourself. But I bet you did one or two things with it. I would be willing to bet that you either used it to pay off debt (which did not stimulate the economy) or you used it to purchase consumable goods like food, clothes, dinners out, and Walmart knick-a-brack. (which did not stimulate the economy)

As it turns out, the economy is stimulated and jobs are created by purchasing “durable goods” preferably made in the United States. Things like stoves, refrigerators, air conditioning units, cars and trucks.

We hear news accounts of the percentages of Americans that are unemployed. The numbers keep rising, and we keep putting off things like buying sustainable goods, because we want a nest egg in case we lose our jobs. But what we don’t hear is that although the unemployment rate is at 7.6 percent in the United States, the employment rate is at 92.4. This means that 92.4 percent of the American Public are employed and saving there money. This tells me that there is a lot of money in savings accounts in this country.

We are an intelligent people, we are a powerful people, we have a collective voice. We know what is right. I’m not going to give you a list of 10 things to do to save the environment or our own lives. You already know what to do, so lets get out there and do it, together.

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  1. In the middle of so much doom and gloom, it’s refreshing to hear an optimistic voice. I’m as guilty as anyone of getting caught up in the negativity sometimes, and things like this are really centering!

  2. At the end of the post I wanted to give you toast my glass to you. Yes unemployment is going up and money is tight, but by making sustainable choices now, we are ensuring a sustainable future. As you said, it’s not about spending money, it’s about where and how we spend it.

  3. You’ve brought up so many great issues in this post! We must realigned our thinking… we don’t need stuff to make us happy… we need healthy children, healthy soil, healthy air, etc. Each of us has the power to be an agent of change… we just have to do it!

    “The world can only change from within.” –Eckhart Tolle

  4. Hi,

    I am torn between to responses. First, wanting to tear down your positive ideals with my much more gloomy sense of human nature and where the world is going despite our best efforts.

    And two, to just be happy that if you really believe in what you say you are a happy and positive person.

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