OBE #2 Schor by Tony

Juliet Schor is a passionate speaker who truly cares about the issues she talks about. The issues that she talks about are not just things she is passionate about either, but issues that affect all of us who use products. I am talking about conscious consumption. The industrialized world and especially the United States consumes more than its fair share of goods if the planet were divided up equally among its inhabitants. There are many different aspects to being a conscious consumer. Many people think that just by changing a few light bulbs in their house they have done their part to help the world consume less and use what resources are available more efficiently. Changing a light bulb is a tiny step in truly being conscious about what you are consuming. People could make a much bigger impact than that one light bulb by many other avenues or could do them in conjunction with swapping out a few bulbs. A good place for people to start is to buy their food as close to home as possible. The amount of energy and fossil fuels used to grow, harvest, package, and transport foods across the country and sometimes across the world is far greater than anything changing a light bulb will be able to make up for. Community food gardens are an excellent way to reduce this transportation and waste of other resources. Not only do community gardens provide food at a local level, but it can be a source of pride and a positive symbol for that community. Working together to maintain a garden can bring communities together and people can spend time together and enjoy themselves all while doing something to help reduce consumption. Farmers markets are another way of purchasing the food you eat closer to home. Especially in the time of economic hardship people should be looking for alternative ways of living including consuming less products and producing more of their own. People who are losing jobs or having their hours cut need to make changes to their lives or they will run out of money very quickly. One option is to go find another part time job or these people could invest in themselves and try and produce some of their own goods that they need. Even in an apartment a small pot with a few bean plants or a tomato makes a difference when it is done on a widespread scale. People's worries about not having a job and being able to buy all of the things that they want, but don't need and will most likely be outdated by the time they can actually afford it would be so much better off working to better themselves by becoming self sufficient instead of trying to spend their way out of debt. These people who engage in doing things themselves have found that they tend to be more satisfied with life. They are able to see the product of their labors and appreciate how much work went into making something.
With people having less money to spend on luxury items in this recession many people are finding that products are lacking in durability and longevity. Consumers are searching for products that will last longer and once that you can get more use out of. This getting more out of products is materialism as it was originally defined. People will become less reliant on always purchasing the newest product and take pride in the ability of one product to outlast the other one and be more useful.
Everyone has heard of so called "green" energy and "green" products, but what makes a product "green?" Juliet Schor found that several companies really do nothing that is green but still label their products as green because they want to jump onto the bandwagon and try and get their product sold. Conscious consumption means that there is a small amount of research that needs to be done on the part of the consumer to education themselves on the differences in products and to be able to tell when products are faking an association to something trendy just to boost sales or when they are actually a different kind of product.
When you think of an organization like United Way and Breast Cancer Research almost anyone from anywhere in the United States has heard of these two organizations. These organizations have gotten so big that in many ways they have in a way lost touch with what they were trying to accomplish because it gets lost in the bureaucracy of these organizations. There is such a thing as too big even for a non-profit. To do the things and carry out the mission they were originally intended to do they don't need a 30 story headquarters office to run their organization. When you look at how much of every dollar you donate actually gets to helping the people it was intended for as opposed to put back into the organization you would feel ripped off. According to current estimates United Way puts about 20 cents of every dollar back into the organization just to prop it up and keep it running. United Way is considered a good charity by the Better Business Bureau. To get a good rating a charity needs only use less than 35% of what it takes in to put back into the organization. It seems to me that there are many better ways for communities to put money and resources into helping out their communities and others by staying closer to home and making sure that a much higher percentage of the money is directed to where it is needed instead of losing 30% off the top which is almost as bad as attorney fees.
In America today there are even some smaller scale trends of de-teching. Normally technology is held up as the way for progress and a better way of living, but some people are finding that just the opposite is true. Bring able to live more sustainably and with less is bringing much satisfaction to many people. Not being dependent on the new and the shiny for many people puts them more at ease and causes them to stop competing with everyone else and playing the mine is newer game because they realize that those kinds of things are not nearly as important and a healthy lifestyle and living within your means.


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