The Obsession with Stuff

So today I have a bunch of things running through my head and one of them is our obsession with 'stuff'. It is true that we live in a largely disposable society and most of us have a hankering for the next it-gadget and it-handbag or whatever. But it is possible to be an ethical consumer without actually consuming? Most green living posts are about buying things that are 'green' and this one is aiming to be different. It is going to tell you the greenest way to be green consumer is to not buy stuff.

It is natural to believe that materialism stems from our love of stuff. We earn more, see more, want more, buy more. The never ending wheel just keeps going through all the motions. Of course, advertising, 'manufactured demand' etc are all to blame - but at the end of the day, what happened to our collective good sense of going, "Wait a minute, do I really need all this stuff?" And now we are still stuck on this wheel of wanting the newest, latest, snazziest - stuff has become a status symbol, a feel good factor and also some sort of void-filler.

Our obsession with stuff is like a string of meaningless relationships that bring us temporary satisfaction but no long-term happiness. The disposability of stuff has hastened a kind of consumer bulimia; once you throw things out, who cares where they end up. 'Single-use', 'disposable', 'instant', 'portable' are the key selling words of gratification as well as 'new', 'sale' and 'ipad'.

Colgate recently introduced a single-use toothbrush called Wisp and its left me wondering, why on earth would a company produce something that is disposable when everybody who is anybody is talking about 'going green'. And what does the Colgate's website say? "Our Core Value of Continuous Improvement supports our long-term environmental goals, which go beyond simply complying with environmental regulations." In their bid to "reducing waste, improving packaging" they have come up with the innovative new product of a single-use toothbrush.

Disposability is not a phenomenon of loving stuff too much, its the phenomenon of not loving stuff enough.  What if instead of reveling in our use and throw culture, we learn to embrace the durability of things? What if instead of immediately buying something we want, we consider what we need first? What if instead of having no idea where stuff goes, we learn to respect that the natural world is capable of only supporting so much waste and that we are literally thrashing the planet?