Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Secret to Happiness

Consume LESS.
Welcome to Day 1 of the No Impact Week! Today is all about consumption. I used to be advertisers ideal human being. I saw the glitzy ads, fancy packaging, and I was all theirs. I never thought twice about if I really needed these products- I WANTED them! Well needless to say I have been spending a little more time thinking about my needs vs. my wants. To really understand why we should be consuming less watch The Story of Stuff. No time? No worries I summarized the videos main points below- give it a quick skim, there’s some pretty scary stats. Especially about happiness!

The Story of Stuff
Stuff is made in a cycle that goes a little something like this:

1. Extraction
-The US is only 5% of the worlds population but we use 30% of the worlds resources…since we do not have all the resources in our country to produce all that we consume we take resources from 3rd world countries.

2. Production
-100,000 synthetic chemicals are used to make our products- we don’t know the full impact of these chemicals, or what they do when all mixed together in our households. But toxic in = toxic out. To prove that point, what is the most toxic food? Breast Milk. That goes to show how many toxins we are absorbing without even knowing it. There are 4 billion lbs of toxic pollution created a year, think of how much of that is in the products we use daily.

3. Distribution

-Externalized Costs is the real cost of products, these costs are not usually reflected in the price. The price of a product does not include the environmental impact it had in production. Who is paying for our products if we aren’t? Our Earth and the underpaid workers who make these products.

4. Consumption
-We are a nation of consumers, our value is measured by how much we consume. 99% of the stuff we consume is trashed within 6 months because it is designed for the DUMP. We see more ads in one year than people in the 1950’s saw in their entire LIFE. And what is the point of advertising? To tell you that what you have isn’t good enough and you need to BUY. Guess what? Our happiness peaked in the 1950’s. Now we no longer have time to spend on family and friends because we are too busy working to pay for our stuff. And what do we do with our free time? Watch t.v. Where we see more ads that makes us go out and shop more. Thus restarting the vicious cycle.

5. Disposal

-Recycling is GREAT but NOT ENOUGH. 1 garbage can of waste put out by you equals 70 cans of garbage that were produced to make the stuff in your garbage can.

Not scared enough about our consumption cycle yet? There's more! Read below(or click the links to watch the video) for some specific stories of how stuff is made.

The Story of Cosmetics
-Only 20% of the chemicals that are put into cosmetics are tested.
-Babies are being born toxic because of all the toxins their moms absorb during pregnancy.
-The FDA doesn’t regulate what is put in cosmetics; they don’t even require cosmetic companies to list all ingredients on the label.

The Story of Bottled Water
-A study conducted by the city of Cleveland found that Fiji water tastes worse and is dirtier than Cleveland tap water. Many other tap vs. bottled water tests have turned out the same.
-Bottled water is less regulated than tap water. Water from your tap is free. So how did the Soda Companies convince you to buy water? They created an ad campaign that scared us away from tap water and convinced us we needed clean water from “springs”. Many bottled waters come from the tap, Dasani being one of them. Don’t be a victim, save money save the environment.

The Story of Cap and Trade
Economics and math isn’t my strongest subject so I’m not even going to try to summarize…well ok I’ll try. Basically “you can’t fix a problem with the same thing that started it” Stock market + big business started over/mass production so giving them pollution permits to buy and sell won’t fix the pollution problem.

Stay tuned- tomorrow is all about TRASH and how to consume less! If you haven't already sign up for No Impact Week!

How much do you consume in one day/week/month/year? Try writing down all the appliances, products, and packaging you use today. We're they all necessary? If not what can be cut out? Or are there disposable products you use that can be replaced with reusable longer lasting products?

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