Thursday, November 26, 2009

Drop the Shop

A small ad adjacent to an article on the Copenhagen climate talks caught my eye. Under the heading, “Green Shopping”, was a small ad for a wireless energy monitor. The text informed me that I could instantly see the difference in energy use and cost that I gain by the various changes I make toward conservation. All for £34.95. All this anyone can do for free by observation and calculation. Of course, one doesn’t get immediate information. On the other hand, one does not end up with another abandoned trinket in a never-ending chain of consumption.

And then the complete absurdity of the heading,” Green Shopping”, struck me. Green shopping is as much of a contradiction in terms as military intelligence or good war. A truly green economy would discourage consumption away from the plastic, fantastic and worthless. A green economy would encourage and promote smaller scale, more sustainable models of economy and enterprise. Shopping, as in “buy more stuff!”, would not be part of that equation.

A green economy would also be a just economy. If Copenhagen is to have any real legacy, it must deal with planetary and climate issues as one world, where all people and nations share equal rights and responsibilities, a world where a wealth and economic power is concentrated among a few to the detriment of the many. Naomi Klein offers some hopeful possibilities toward that end in The Nation.

Since tomorrow is the opening salvo in the nation's biggest retail extravaganza of the year, this is a good time to think about consumption and consumerism. I personally will not buy any trinkets or gifts tomorrow. If I shop at all, I will shop for food. Otherwise, I'll stay away from the stores. I'll pretty much do the same for Christmas. I rarely exchange presents other than something I make myself. Otherwise, I put my gift money into donations.



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