Why do we always feel like we need more technology? Because of the ads and to reinforce our sense of worth? People who buy and buy will never be happy because there will always be something else they want. It seems we think that sometimes we can solve an environmental problem by creating new efficient technologies (and sometimes we can). But often times this new technology brings about another problem that ends up harming the environment again. Consider hydrogen fueled cars, to decrease carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere; however, producing the hydrogen also requires energy, and may release carbon dioxide in the process. So what do we do? Sometimes the solution is to take away current technologies on the market right now. For instance (if you could consider just for this example utensils as a form of technology), my roomates and I were having some problems regarding dishes…They were complaining that utensils weren’t being dried and put away, (which they weren’t because everyone was being lazy). We had about 15 forks and knives, which seemed more than adequate for 4 people; that is, if everyone did their own dishes after they ate, there would be no instant where we didn’t have a clean fork in the drawer. But this was not the case. I decided to take the Taoist approach to solving this problem. (By the way, for those who don’t know much about Taoist philosophy, neither do I, but there is this notion that instead of valuing something, they value the nothing. In one sense, the nothingness or emptiness within an object, makes the object useful. For instance, clay is not useful unless you can form a deep cavern, a hole, in it and make a pot to hold things with. BUt without that hole, of nothingness, it would not be useful). So as a result of this useless complaining, I took away 7 or 8 knives and forks and hid them in a drawer. No one seemed to notice that we had less utensils. And no one complained about it again. That’s what I’m talking about – value something more when you have less of it – I think in some ways people would be happier.

One Response to “consumerism”

  1. Liam says:

    My house has a 1 glass policy, each roommate gets one glass to use. It works generally for less than a week… until we have people over, and obviously our guests don’t expect to have to wash the glasses (despite one of my roommates efforts), until gradually all of our glasses get used and are lying around while we argue about whose responsibility the glasses are and who will have to wash them. The hiding method however might work, of course, taking away technology from others may be pretty sticky. I’m guessing people in my house would not be happy if they were thirsty and unable to find a glass…

    I certainly agree that consumer culture is pretty bizarre, it’s something deeply rooted in our society. Advertising is explicitly designed to create a desire for something which isn’t needed, do I need anti-bacterial soap? Probably not.