Buying Instead of Being(Compiled from 'Taking Charge' - a book now out of print, produced by the Simply Living Collective of the American Society of Friends)
- How often do I buy things because my needs for
love, friendship, celebration, job satisfaction, personal recognition, or cultural identity are not being
How often have I bought someone something
instead of showing my friendship or love more
Are 'gifts' in my family or group things
that we do, things that we are, things that we make,
or things that we buy?
- Of the things that I own, which help me or my
family or group to be more active, self-reliant, and
involved with each other and others?
- Are my freedom of choice and my political and
social values restricted by businesses and other
institutions whose survival is dependent on high
and growing levels of consumption?
- To what extent are possessions and social status an
important part of my self-image and that of my
Are our feelings of self-worth based on the
things we have and the 'quality' of the neighborhood we live in or on who we are as human beings?
What educational, media, and social messages do
we get which reinforce tendencies to evaluate ourselves and others in terms of possessions rather than
of personal qualities?
How could we change these
- Which of my children’s demands and expectations
are shaped by advertising?
- How much of what I spend on consumer goods goes
for nonfunctional packaging, needless repairs, needless decoration, advertising, corporate lobbying,
Do these contribute anything to
quality or use value?
- Is my present job dependent on continued growth
of a high-consumption economy?
What You Can Do
- List the goods and services on which your current
way of life depends.
Of these, which were not in
general use 75 years ago? 100 years ago?
What advantages do they
What added costs?
- Which of the goods and services on which you
rely for comfort and survival depend on centralized
sources of fuel, energy, water, transportation, or supply
which are beyond your direct control?
Could you in
fact survive if these sources suddenly failed?
changes would you have to make?
What alternatives ought to be available?
Does our dependence on such sources help limit our
freedom in relation to major political, social, and economic institutions?
- For a period of two weeks pay close attention to
the advertising to which you are exposed.
What is it
telling you about what you are as a human being?
How does it seek to influence your goals and desires?
Those of your children?
What kinds of threats and
promises does advertising use?
Do these reflect reality
Record and discuss some ads that are especially
striking for one reason or another.
Analyze the influences and messages associated with our patterns of
consumption and those of other segments of our
- Find some popular magazines from Third World
countries and discuss the extent to which American
consumption patterns are put forth as something to be
aspired to in poor parts of the world
- List all your possessions which you would have
to own in order to live without great discomfort and
What proportion are they of your total
How do you define 'great discomfort and
Try living without some of the non-
essentials for a period and sharing same of the others
with neighbors and friends.
You may discover that
most of your real needs can be met at relatively little
- Try saying 'no' the next few times you are asked
to solve any kind of a problem by making a purchase
of goods that do not seem absolutely essential to you.
What are the alternatives?
- List the things you own which help you be more
active, self-reliant, creative, and convivial.
which promote passivity, dependence, and alienation,
or have a strong tendency in that direction.
pend on how they are used?
What are the differences
How do you use things in the second
What might be some alternative ways of
using them or sharing their use?
Get together with others and try to find out the
investment and loan policy of a bank, pension fund,
or insurance company of which you are a client.
what extent is it loaning your money to military contractors, exploitative multinational corporations, or
companies operating in countries with racist or oppressive military regimes ?
- Discuss (with your family, living group, friends,
or simple living seminar)
how you might go about de-
consumerizing your own life.
List three suggestions for
simplifying your life and try them out for a month.
Afterward, evaluate the experience and, if appropriate,
add a few more suggestions to your list.
THE ETHICAL CONSUMER - and try Googling "Fair Trade" don't forget the quotes
Some Questions About lifestyle.......Food.......Clothes
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