Sunday, July 13, 2008

Consumerism

As a part of a unit study for homeschool, the kids and I started looking at the economics of our nation, and in particular the shift to a consumption based society. It's clear that lifestyle is over for as long as housing markets remain severely depressed, and food prices continue to rise. Even with the government going into debt to send out stimulus checks, there just isn't enough money to fuel a consumer lifestyle right now.

As all of this was beginning, and before I started paying attention to the current events, the kids and I decided we would try to consume less. Less electricity, less junk food, less clothing, less everything, except gas because we are still learning much of our curriculum via field trips and experience.

This is my other blog, dedicated to occasionally writing about the journey. And the truth is, deprogramming is a hard thing. Luckily, I was blessed with a mother who knows a thing or two about avoiding pointless purchases. And, as a result of marathon back-to-school shopping trips as a child, I believe I have been blessed with a life-long loathing for shopping. So, my journey might be easier than others'. But it's still a journey, and one that becomes more necessary with every day.

Feel free to comment about your own experiences weaning off the consumption cycle, or how you really feel about the non-consumption movement. Even dedicated shoppers are welcome here. . .

4 comments:

knittinandnoodlin said...

That's awesome that you are teaching your wee ones about consumerism (and its myriad pitfalls), frizzlefry! I've been working on the same thing myself for the last few months. It is a tough lesson to teach my children because it is sometimes tough (for me, anyway, as a former shopaholic) to stay vigilant about my own purchases.

We went to the movies to see Wall-E last week (and I never to the movies because it does not seem reasonable to spend nearly $100 to entertain us for an hour and a half). I thought, well, this movie might underscore some of the points I've been trying to make about excessive consumerism. After the movie, my younger munchkin said, "Well, I'm sold on those chairs!" *sigh* And then I reflected on the irony of huge buckets of popcorn, vats of soda, and the size of the chicken tenders and french fries (enough to easily feed a family of 10) we ate at the theater, and then the piles of toys, sheet sets, shirts, sun visors, and various and sundry other plastic crap based on the movie that will be sold. I felt like a big sucker, even though it was a cute movie. *sigh*

There really is no current model for teaching kids that you don't have to buy everything they're selling...you have to look back a couple of generations.

jkm2p2coffey said...

Madison has told me we are going to ride bike more this school year. It is a 2 mile trip to and from school so for me I will be riding 8 miles (4 miles in morning 4 miles in the afternoon). We are practising this summer and hoping the decrease in the purchase of the expensive gas.

Alex said...

I think it all begins with budgeting. Although I had a father who was an accountant, so I guess for me that was inevitable. :) But it's hard to notice where you can save money unless you keep a meticulous accounting of your expenses and how they compare to what you had planned to spend. And it provides a great reason to not buy something, because "If it isn't in the budget, we can't get it." I imagine if kids help to create a family budget, they might be more on board with it. And it also gives them a good incentive to make extra money outside of the home should they want something that isn't in the budget. Maybe you already do this; I'm just sharing ideas.

As we've tried to cut costs, I've also found that the best opportunity for savings (outside of frivolous purchases)comes from buying cheaper food and in bulk, and by cutting back on utilities. Adding $600 of additional insulation in our attic last summer probably has saved us $50 to $100 each month in heating and cooling costs. Although your home is newer than ours, so you may not need that.

Jen said...

I have thought about this since reading the archives of your blog a while ago.

It helps that we can't afford much right now. Moving back to Oregon also helps. In Utah, I felt the pressure to have a big home, big car, big lifestyle. I am very happy with my 1200 sq. ft. home and focus on a simple lifestyle.

Though I do think environmentalism can go overboard, I believe in conservation. After reading your consumerism info, it clicked in my mind what "reduce, reuse, recycle" means.