consumerism


It is true that many in the world do not believe in the FACT that we are running low on oil and using 3 x the amount that we pull out of the ground and it is true that there are many who believe climate change is a con…Just to prove that this is true -I have discovered that car manufacturers have produced the Knight XV, a $310 000 USD monster to rival the Hummer by a long shot! What a beast!

<script src=”http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/js/2.0/video/evp/module.js?loc=int&vid=/video/international/2009/10/01/gg.lawton.fertile.land.cnn&#8221; type=”text/javascript”></script><noscript>Embedded video from <a href=”http://www.cnn.com/video”>CNN Video</a></noscript>

Found here

I can’t help myself, I love my Vespa, If I am not in my veggie powered 4WD (with Apple sticker on the back window), I drive my Vespa to sit in a non-franchised, un-corporate cafe drinking fairtrade organic coffee, in front of me on the table is my Apple Macbook with a Molskine notebook on top and my iPhone alongside.

I AM A STEREOTYPE – aghhhhhh, I need a new life!  :)   This website I found has caught me out. I am predictable, readable and … aghhh it hurts so much I could not help but laugh … and laugh  … and laugh. I had tears running down my cheeks. Christine has been saying the things this guy blogs about for years to me. This is so clever!

He was on Triple J last week apparently. He writes about Things White People Like, here is his list – You need to visit his site!

Well, it is the season … for putting out your bulk rubbish.

We live in a funny age, never before has there been the need for so many ‘extra’ rubbish collections. Who remembers growing up with just one of the small round tin bins? The rubbish men would run from house to house, with an even bigger plastic version of what we would put on the verge. They would throw two, maybe three, maybe even four bins worth of rubbish into the bin they carried on their shoulder before manually dumping it into the back of the truck that was being driven (usually by a big fat guy who wouldn’t run!) Where was all our rubbish in those days? Imagine a rubbish man running (just that is enough!) around with 3 or 4 wheelie bins worth of rubbish on his back!!! Now we have 2 full sized wheelie bins for all our rubbish, an occasional trip to the tip as well as our annual bulk rubbish collection!

On this topic have you ever seen Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff“? I have posted it here before, but it’s worth another look.

From Roll 141

It was fun, a few weeks ago when our area had bulk rubbish. Christine and I got up early one Saturday morning before the kids were even stirring. I took the dog for a walk while Christine began the clean up around the yard. Whilst on my walk I discovered a fantastic compost bin as well as 2 big sheets of marine ply maybe 2.5M by 1.5M! I ran home, grabbed the car and went back and grabbed it. As I was off-loading my find, Christine was busy dragging out stuff onto the verge, some of it admittedly was stuff I had brought in last time…one man’s trash is another man’s treasure they say :) We laugh at people in their utes driving up and down the street filling their cars with other peoples ‘rubbish’ but maybe they are the ones with the last laugh. As they never need to spend $500 on that swing set for the kids because they found a perfectly good one on the roadside. They laugh as they remove the broken keyboard from the perfectly good monitor and replace it with the perfect keyboard they found attached to a broken monitor! Where does most of this stuff go? Well after the guys at the tip (who are heroes in my mind!) have sorted the good for the crap…it gets put into landfill, mostly. Our region is just experimenting with a massive composting factory, millions of bucks to avoid so much land fill. Great stuff, but you should see the environmental footprint it creates to keep the engines running 24/7 so the fumes remain neutral! I know, I know, it sounds hopeless and negative, but I guess I don’t see a future in better ways to deal with our rubbish. I only see a future in learning to create less at a domestic level – YES domestic. Because when Mr Production Plant owner has a revelation about how much ‘stuff’ he puts in his household bin, I think…I hope…he would carry that over into his factory waste.

So next time you go to throw out something, I dare you to ask yourself NOT which bin should this go into, NOR do I need to throw this out? BUT rather, did I need to buy what was in this box in the first place, could I have made something? Borrowed it? Done without it? Got it second hand? I know this is the question that perplexes me always too late. That my purchasing of stuff is directly related to my environmental footprint. “stuff in – stuff out”. And I just love ‘stuff’ too much!

I get a pleasure from buying stuff, all that lovely packaging, the sound of unwrapping the box…the smell of the fresh plastic…

From Roll 141

I can even justify stuff. Take for example my new water-pump, lost f nice smelly plastic in that new box hmmm But I justified it ok…prices are low now, I wash my diesel in rain water now, our veggies are watered in rainwater now, we wash our clothes in rain water now… all great, but I still loved the power of the purchase more than all these sweet reason to buy such a ‘nobel’ toy!

We yesterday I put my guilt to rest…for while at least, I was out with master collector and bio-diesel buddy Andy Longhurst and we decided to drive the streets near his house where bulk rubbish is happening, my discoveries?

1) Another great compost bin, this one with a liquid catchment and tap on the bottom.

2) Two good milk crates for the shed, storage and seating :)

3) A pair of blundstone boots in my size.

4) A couple of jerry can holders for my car…admittedly they were in Andy’s shed…but he was going to get rid of them!


So call me a scab – but I’m having fun!

I love the video “The Power of Community”. It’s all about how when Cuba lost its source of oil (and money!) when Russia pulled out, it had to ‘go it alone’. And that was particularly in the area of oil driven industry…which ones are not!! But the video focused on the food/farming industry mostly. A great watch.

But I was just reading a blog I look at from time to time called Organictobe.org. They have some good (and obscure) articles on there. I like it. Here are some great thoughts on economics … and horses -

The modern pet craze is not limited to cats and dogs but embraces many animals, especially horses. [ ] Statistics say there are 6.9 million horses in the U.S. involved in various activities from racing, showing, pleasure riding, polo, police work, farming and ranching. The horse business or hobby adds about $112 billion to the GNP. Horses generate more money than the home furniture and fixtures business, and almost as much as the apparel and textile manufacturing industry. In other words, while we generally think of Old Dobbin as a step backward in time in agriculture, horses are very much a part of our modern economic and social lives today.

Why this is pertinent to garden farming becomes apparent from what happened a few months ago. At the time when the national banking fraternity was on its knees in Washington, begging for money, news all over the media reported that Hometown Heritage bank in Lancaster County, Pa., was having its best year ever. Hometown Heritage may be the only bank in the world, surely one of the few, that has drive-by window service designed to accommodate horses and buggies. Some 95% of the bank’s customers are Amish farmers. The banker, Bill O’Brien, says that he has not lost a penny on them in 20 years. They obviously don’t have auto loans to pay off and do not use credit cards. They might not need bank loans at all except to buy farmland, which especially in Lancaster County, has risen almost insanely in price. O’Brien says he is doing about a hundred million dollars worth of business in farm loans. To further make the point, an obscure law does not allow banks to bundle and sell mortgages on farms and homes that are not serviced by public electric utilities.

There is plenty in this situation for economists to contemplate, but what struck me the most was the fact that these farmers are buying farm land that can cost them ten thousand dollars per acre or sometimes more, and paying for it with horse farming. And because of their religion, the Amish do not accept farm subsidies that keep many “modern” farms “profitable.” Facing these facts, it is very difficult to see how economists or agribusiness experts can claim that farms using horses or mules for motive power are any more backward, or any less profitable, than farms using tractors.

If you study the great debate that raged in farm circles from about 1920 to 1950 over the economics of horses and mules vs. tractors, (a good recent book on the subject is Mule South To Tractor South, by George B. Ellenberg, Univ. of Alabama Press, 2007), you will learn that the experts never agreed. Both sides finally admitted that it didn’t matter anyway. There was a rising kind of younger farmer for whom tractors were just too alluring to resist. These farmers were going to use them, no matter how much more they cost than horses. Farmers who loved farming with horses wept while they watched trucks haul their teams off to the the rendering plant. They did not get rid of their horses because of the supposedly harder work involved but because they were afraid that if they did not switch, the farmers who did switch would eventually take all the land.

Full article here

Well, my bowels are running active! My stomach churns, my brain is fuzzy…it is boxing day.

I ate too much, I drank a bit, I am not a big drinker but 5 beers and a glass of wine over a day exceeds my normal limit by a long shot. And stuff… we seemed to bring more stuff home than we took!

Gifts, now I love stuff. For as much as I protest the consumer ways of our society I am the first one to put up my hand and say “I love stuff”. I have my weaknesses – Books, Outdoor Gear, Hardwear stuff, Comupter Stuff and so on…

Yes, I did manage to receive and give away a few goats, wells and mosquito nets to those with less than me in the third world, but it did feel token. I sometimes wonder what I would feel like if I asked for nothing. Just whatever I was to gain at Christmas defer it all…all elsewhere! My brother played a trick on me last night. We always get a stocking from Mum and Dad, to this day we have gotten ourselves a stocking filled with funny, useful, playful or just plain silly stuff every year. (Deodorant, blue-tack, a bouncy ball, a Tupperware bottle top opener, a stick of sunscreen and so on. Every year my bro and I wait for the other to open everything first and then proceed to open our stocking stash and pretend that there is an extra gift for me, a more expensive one. But it is never the case as Mum makes sure the stockings are identical, this is the case for Scotty our brother in law also. This year something backfired. Clint and Scotty set me up. They had gotten into the stockings and loaded their with extra wrapped gifts. Old watch boxes with some old watches in them and so on. And for me, they had a ‘fake’ stocking filled with crap like a lemon, a wrapped potato and so on. I wasn’t sure what was going on. Even after I guessed they had placed into my bag the lemon etc, I still couldn’t quite work out how they ended up with a watch each and I had a stick of roll-on. They were both playing it up… “Ohhh look at this lovely Seiko under water watch I got in my stocking”. I said,  “Well I did get a nice sleeping bag for my birthday last week, I shouldn’t get a watch too” They were in hysterics watching me squirm and pretend I had not been dealt a dud stocking! Very funny boys! The watches were fake and we all had a laugh.

I got some nice gifts. This nice Apple MAc bluetooth keyboard and matching Mighty Mouse!

wireless_1_20070813

I got more books than you can poke a stick at. In fact Youth Vision gave me a voucher as a bye bye gift for $100 which I hated having in my wallet so I zipped straight down to the Bookshop Cafe in Como – THE best cafe Bookshop in Perth and spent it.

- Daughters and Their Dads, Bruce Robinson (A great local Perth guy)

- Man In The Dark, Paul Auster

- The Tall Man, Chloe Hooper

Then Kathy bought me 2 trashy kinds of novels for Christmas, and these are added to the list I made in the post or 2 below, that is sitting waiting to be read and Gillead which is being enjoyed right now. But I visited my cousin, Renee, just before Christmas, she is a Noongar Aboriginal. And we got to talking about books and movies one should read on indigenous issues, here is what she gave me to read;

- Two Men Dreaming, James Cowan

- An Aboriginal Mother Tells of the Old and The New, Labumore:Else Roughsey

- Voices of Aboriginal Australia, Irene Moores

- The World of the First Australians, R.M. & C.H. Berndt

There should be enough reading here for the next few years!

This year more than ever I heard adults say when asked the questions, :What do you want for Christmas?” - “Nothing really, I have everything I want. I I wanted anything during the year I just went out and bought it, so now it’s Christmas there is nothing I can think of that I need to tell people to get me”

What is behind this statement? This is not a judgement, just a question. What does that statement say about our prosperous times and culture? If I want a kayak, I just either wait for my tax and go and get it, or just put it on the card. No or little delayed gratification, just go and get it. If I want a new x-box, or a new TV and surround sound set up, a new woodwork tool – I just go and buy it.

So Christmas comes around and I want for nothing! Is this a good thing? Should I save up all my wants get them at Christmas? Or should I not? Is that not what Christmas should be about anyway? Should I just ask for socks and jocks and spend my time worrying about other people gifts? I think I would appreciate a gift more if I have thought about getting it all year. Hmm not sure.

Hey. Have yourselves a great post Christmas, have fun playing on the new totem tennis set, riding the new bikes, watching the kids stack it on the rip stick, surfing the new body board, straightening your hair with the new heat thingy, laying on the floor for hours playing with littlest pet shop toys or just curled up in the corner reading the new book.

I got one.

iphone

I was so impressed with Hamo’s review I went out and grabbed one on contract for the same price I am paying off my non-existent phone now. They even canceled my current contract 6mths early!

Shut up!

Should I turn comments off on this one? You cynics! Become believers…wo is me wretched man I am.

Here is an extract from a great article Harry from Peace Tree put me on to, I loved it.

It dawned on me that what I was witnessing was a near perfect example of a local economy in action.  And when Andy started talking specifically about economics, which he will do if pressed although normally he is quiet and reserved, he “brought home” the significance of what I was looking at. He and Jan delight in their frugal life style which is the main reason they can afford to keep on being such small farmers producing such high quality food. Their house, partly underground, is modest and environmentally sane. They heat it with their own wood cut and split from their own woodlot. Parts of the house and of other buildings are made from salvaged  materials. They raise most of the food they eat, obviously. They are keen practitioners of home medicine. They are very artful recyclers of material our wasteful society throws away. And they are content with their lives. “We would rather do without many things that modern society strives for,” Andy says, “so as to have the time to grow really good food while enjoying the natural and spiritual world around us. We could expand, work ourselves to distraction and make more money. We choose to avoid that trap.” I have used Andy’s observation about their life style before: “It is rather easy to live comfortably below the so-called cost of living because the government keeps raising the index.” This is something that today’s society needs to hear, especially now that the international economy has come near to collapse because so many people are so unwilling to live sensibly and have therefore borrowed  themselves into bankruptcy.

Full article here

Sex and the City and Handbag Insanity

an article by one of my heros…

I had a rare visit to the cinema the other night, not with anything in particular to watch but just to see what we might fancy. The only thing that wasn’t a horror film or a children’s film was ‘Sex and the City’, so we went to watch that. I haven’t watched any of the TV programmes so I was a bit lost, but really, what a load of rubbish. I have never seen more product placement, more vacuous people and more costume changes in a single film in my life. Anyway, that, in essence is my film review, but the one thing that stuck with me about the film was something that came as a deep shock and which I thought was quite extraordinary.

In the film, the main character hires a PA, who is a poor (well compared to the rest of them who seem to be eyewateringly wealthy) but is as obsessed with fashion and labels as everyone else in the film. Anyway, the PA has a handbag, which is some revolting designer handbag, designed by Louis Vitton or some other designer person, of which she is extraordinarily proud.

As the film goes on, it emerges (oh the shame) that she can’t actually afford such a handbag, and that her handbag, because she is poor you see, is actually RENTED. Rented. This is all remedied in the film because the main character takes pity on her and buys her her own handbag, a deeply emotional moment as she now has her own £2,000 handbag. What I was left with though, was this new knowledge that in New York there are companies that rent out expensive designer handbags.

How all pervasive and pernicious is this consumer culture that these ghastly handbags, made in some grisly sweatshop somewhere, designed with any sense of taste locked firmly in a box, have evolved in such a way that one’s sense of self esteem and identity requires a handbag rental service? No sense of living within one’s budget or means, rather you simply MUST HAVE a designer handbag or you are nobody.

I guess this ties back to the discussion we were having the other day about solar panels and food gardens becoming the next ‘must haves’, and whether or not we can harness that same sense of desirability. I was impressed the other day with reading about a crowd in Cornwall called ‘Rocket Gardens’ from whom you buy pre-planted salads in a funky box, they come in the post, you pop them in the garden, and hey presto, instant salad! Anyway, I struggle to draw any intelligent observation from the handbag thing, I think I am just still in shock about the whole handbag rental thing. Did you know such a service exists?

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