Oxala House: Season Greetings from an Eco-hypocrite

I hate the holidays season, because it brings out the worst of the rabid consumer in us.

I hate this mindless buying, this over-consumption (and its direct consequences: stress, depression, pollution, waste, hunger, greed, climate change, greed, hunger, resource depletion…) , this compulsive and excessive spending, this addiction to shopping (a result of years of media conditioning), this spirit of wealth accumulation beyond basic needs …
From January to November, we shout out our ecological commitments, our nice resolutions to save the planet. We jeer the abominable culture of consumerism…
In December, we make abstraction of all these nice thoughts. We erase everything and fly back to our “vieux amours”… The inescapable buying frenzy is back again: a kind of system-led exercise in society brainwashing.

By the way, I hate the System.

With the current economic crisis, I started dreaming of a global rethinking of the System.The crisis offered a perfect opportunity to reassess what really matters. I thought (am I naïve?) that business as usual was no longer an option.
Unfortunately, the crisis did not bring any change to consumers spending habits. As beautifully stated by Ellen Goodman, in her article entitled “Recession Exposes Emptiness of Consumerism”, “What Americans already knew at some level was that the credit-card-driven, debt-ridden, pay-later economy wasn’t sustainable. Not economically. Not environmentally.
It wasn’t just the Birkenstock crowd or our Depression-era elders who knew this. It’s been nestled in our collective sub consciousness among all the critiques against materialism, all the screeds against commercials, all the unease about excess and inequality, all the fear that we’ve filled our kids’ lives and landfills with stuff. But it was as commonly dismissed as a Sunday sermon. Or manipulated into a pitch for diamonds

All we do is trying to clear our guilty conscience through a lot of futile actions (non-chemical all natural cleaners packaged in plastic bottles, biodegradable bags, old calendars to wrap gifts, eco-friendly gifts which are, nonetheless, pointless stuff… An amazing psychological experiment mentioned by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow in its paper “Buy Local, Act Evil” tends to show that virtuous shopping can actually lead to immoral behavior), without calling into question our way of living, without putting any limits on our voracious appetites for comfort. We try to go green without respecting the basic 3R steps: Reducing (consumption, ecological impact, waste, packaging…), Reusing and Recycling. And when discernment is lacking, it becomes easy to succumb to the greenwashing melody.

We are probably plunging in a green consumerism!
Our guilty conscience, our fears and worries, are being preyed upon. Many corporations are making big money of it.

At the same time, buying stuff with the word “Green” stamped on the package gives us an exaggerated moral credit that we use to offset the act of moral bankruptcy that follows.

To sum up, we are hypocrite, schizophrenic and over-consuming guys. Any apparent shift in consciousness is obviously short-lived and skin-deep. We all have a tendency to get back to an equilibrium of complacency as soon as we can…
Things will never change without a BIG BIG slap.

The temptation is so great… But, I would spear you my eternal boring screed about the unavoidable crash of the System, the coming Great Chaos, the Global Ecological Collapse, on the internal inconsistency of the notion of “sustainable development”, on the necessity of downsizing and voluntary sobriety…

Anyway, it’s worth having a look to Chris Seay’s talk, a very nice peace on consumerism.
The attached “Happy New Year” card aims to make my bullshit a little bit more bearable. So, please forgive my romantic foolishness.

May these years bring us the best Downsizing ever… one that, I hope, will be endurable, sustainable, soothing, and above all, serene.

PS: A little Arab proverb to help you making the downsizing trip: “Who wants to achieve something will acquire the mean to. Who does not want to do anything will find an excuse for.”
PS2: Your applauses (is it forbidden to dream?), critics and/or insults are always welcome onwww.tingitingi.com