One of the things that we have heard a lot about — from both political parties — is how we need to go out and spend money in order to help the economy. The bottom line is that our economy has evolved (or devolved?) to a point where debt-fueled consumer spending accounts for about 2/3 of the economic activity. This sort of spending leads to short-term, somewhat explosive growth. It means the boom times are bigger (as are the bust times). While dramatic economic growth may seem like a good thing, the truth is that the sort of economic model we are running on actually leads to greater instability.
In the long run, if you live within your means and limit your consumerism, it leads to a more stable economy. There will always be up cycles and down cycles, but in an economy where consumerism isn’t the main driver, there is less of a dramatic swing between the two. (And “economic stimulus” may not be necessary.) If you are ready to do what is right for your personal finances, and you want to boycott the consumer culture that surrounds us, here are two relatively simple things that you can do:
- Join a sharing network: Instead of buying new, see if you can get what you need through a sharing network like Freecycle. You can also use Classifieds services to help you find people who want to exchange their stuff for your stuff. Instead of throwing something out, give it away if it is still servicable. The idea behind sharing networks, from book exchanges to local swap meets is that you can exchange goods without going out and buying something new. Even buying something on secondhand from a thrift shop reduces the consumerism in the world.
- Make it yourself. You can also boycott consumer culture by doing some things for yourself. Growing your own produce is one way to do this. If you have other skills, you can make your own clothes (my mom did this for me and my siblings while we were growing up), make own your bread and other food items or even build some of your own goods. At the very least, making an effort to buy local food and other items can reduce the amount of consumerism going on and keep money in the local economy.
These are two of the easiest ways to reduce your consumerism. However, there are a number of other more complex and dedicated methods of boycotting consumer culture. These include participating in localized currencies and even going all the way with freeganism. Your level of participation in a consumer culture boycott is, of course, up to you. In the end, if enough people start living more frugal lives, and taking care of their personal finances, the economy itself will make a shift to something that is more sustainable in the long term.
Image source: Daylife