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I was reading an article today which discusses some of the impact of the consumerist norm in certain Australian suburbs. I am not sure how the folks in the study rank when compared to Americans, but I feel that I can take some lessons from this. Some points that I want to remember are:

  • Shopping has been exposed as the big culprit in rising water use and greenhouse gas emissions.

  • New data shows the electricity and water used to produce everything people buy - from food and clothing to CDs and electrical appliances - far outweighs any efforts to save water and power in the home, according to an extensive analysis by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the University of Sydney.

  • Shopping habits represent such a large part of greenhouse gas emissions that even if every household switched to renewable energy and stopped driving cars tomorrow, total household emissions would fall by less than 20 per cent, the study found. On average, every additional dollar of consumption was responsible for 720 grams of greenhouse gas emissions and 28 litres of water.

  • More than six times our average household water use is embodied in the food and other products we buy. However, at least 8 per cent of food goes uneaten in Australia. The eco-footprint of this wasted food is greater than that of all household expenditure on transport combined, the report says.

I know it may sound strange, but in a way I took some comfort from this article. No, my landlord won’t let me compost. I can’t get solar panels added to our apartment building; I can't add a gray-water system or a composting toilet. But I can very easily continue my efforts to stop buying shit-especially cheap, plastic, disposable, "instant gratification" shit. I can also shop consciously and can eat what I buy - or can freeze (can, or otherwise store) uneaten food to avoid waste. That I will do, having an even greater impact.

Click here to read the complete article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Photo of consumerist "doll" by Eolo Perfido


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 30th, 2007 05:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for posting this. I can't say that I am any where near living off the grid, but I do make an effort not to buy more than I "need" (although my definition of need is a modern one that includes a cell phone, for example) and to reduce the consumerism that I participate in.
Aug. 30th, 2007 07:28 pm (UTC)
I hear you. I think it is really hard to live sustainably and I feel like the mainstream tries to make it impossible. To me, deciding only to shop out of need is a radical act. It would be much easier to go with the flow and let my 6 Venus-ruled planets take charge!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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