Sunday, November 9, 2008

Global Stewardship

I just finished watching "The Story of Stuff" with Annie Leonard and wanted to share its important message with all of you. Her message is this: folk in the US consume way too much stuff which only taxes our valuable natural resources and results in all kinds of personal unhappiness because we cannot seem to satiate our need for more and more stuff.

Thanks to society and its clever advertising machine, we're led to believe we need new stuff when our old stuff is still useful. For example, I could keep my old (fill in the blank) but the new version looks so much more (fill in favorite adjective) and I'll likely be able to (fill in favorite verb) by having it which will lead to (fill in fantasy), etc... Ad infinitum. Ad nauseam. It's actually a little crazy when you pause to consider it all.

The recent Pixar movie "Wall-E" tackled the issue of overconsumption and its consequences rather brilliantly, methinks, and "The Story of Stuff" continues on in the same vein but does a better job breaking down the how and why. Sometimes acquaintences tease me about driving around an 11-year-old car (almost unheard of out here in the affluent DC area), but I'm proud of the fact that it's still ticking AND has over 170,000 miles on it. I mean, I guess I could buy a new car right now but why when Bobby J (yep, I've named my car) is still running perfectly well? I just can't justify it.

Spending time up in the "last frontier" and out of the bubble of DC, I was reminded that the economy is hitting folk hard...not something I see where I live. Several of the commercials I've seen in Alaska are addressing this worry and my hunch tells me that this is the case elsewhere in America, too. Recently, I saw the latest Kraft Singles commercial which advertises the economy of Kraft Singles and the value of a wholesome grilled cheese sandwich ("Need a nutritious meal for your children but having trouble making ends meet? Don't forget Kraft Singles during your next grocery run because grilled cheese sandwiches go a long way on a small budget!").

While it makes me sad that so many are struggling under the recession and the plummeting economy, it does seem that a silver lining may be peeking through all the turmoil. I'm seeing more and more people spending time at home with their families, choosing cheaper homemade meals and card games to evenings out. I see people teaching their kids that sometimes you can't always get what you want when you want it (a nice change from the Veruca Salt phenomenon we've seen this past decade). And while really tough right now, perhaps it will show us (the US) that you really can survive on very little and actually be happy about it.


BrendenM said...

hi Kelly, I think you have a valuable point concerning overconsumption. It is true Americans can be very wasteful. We need to generally be more aware about our environmental footprint, for example driving, wasting food, water, and energy,etc. But concerning your car, buying a new, more fuel efficient vehicle can actually be seen as global stewardship, as many American cars consume copius amounts of gasoline, such as SUVs. A new Toyota Prius, for example, gets an average 45 miles per gallon, whereas a big Suburban gets something like 8. This is an area we could stand to improve in.
Brenden Mclane,
Washington State

Kelly McGannon said...

hey, brenden. yep, i hear what you're saying. a new toyota prius is on the radar; however, i can't quite afford it just yet. in fact, when i lived in montana, i drove my aunt's prius all over the place and loved every minute in the car.

so, do you think the economy hinders green living or actually helps it by driving consumers towards greener, more economical purchases?

cheers, kelly