Sunday, 11 January 2009

Consumerism Rampant in Canberra

In the local free paper, there was an article which claimed that Canberrans, on average, spent $1475 each year on products they either never used or threw away. Counting the cats as consumers (well, you've seen the size of them! ;)) and given the children are here part-time, we thought that would amount to our household wasting in the vicinity of $5000 per annum.

Across Australia, if all Australians lived like this (and I'm guessing they don't), this would equate to about 30 billion dollars wasted each year. This is staggering.

My partner and I thought about this - wasting $100 each and every week. We had a good chat and realised that we couldn't actually afford to waste this much money - we've other priorities for our money, like chook houses and water tanks.

Yes, some items may be bought ahead of when they are actually used, but they are eventually used. Very little food ever gets thrown out - it usually gets preserved in some way prior to that happening. If we have something we no longer need, we generally find someone to pass it on to or donate it to charity. We've streamlined gift giving with the wish book and put a halt to Christmas gift exchanges with many family and friends, so we've minimised receiving something we won't use.

I'm not saying we are perfect - far from it. I'm sure we could easily live with less than we do. But we are trying to be conscious about our purchases and only buy what we will use or give to others.

I'm still astounded at this level of waste in our society. What do people buy to cause such waste? Really interested to read your thoughts on this one.

love and light


Anonymous said...

Thats a very loaded question woman lol.

I think there are a myriad of reasons why ppl buy as they do, from the wish to portray a particular image, the fulfilling of a deeper need (albeit short lived and a no-filler at all), buying without thinking first, big ideas translated further down the track to too much effort, lack of value placed on items, culture where the novelty wears off in 5 mins, easy purchasing dollars previously have meant little appreciation for craftmanship, cheap imported goods mean you can toss it and forget it, and absolutlely no recognition for the REAL value-meaning resources utilised to produce, store, transport and failure to acknowledge disposal effects of all of the above!

Of course there are a multitude of other reasons, the list could go on for eons, each as individual as the person behind it. I think whilst we have a LONG way to go as a species, the awareness is developing more strongly as each day passes. It certainly has mainstream media devoted to it and in the blog world the tide is developing into a tsunami!

One can only hope that all this will translate into a cultural change sooner rather than later.

Somehow I suspect though the perfect storm (peak oil, economics and climate change) will create the changes more rapidly that intentional ations by mankind.

Cheryl said...

Hi Naturewitch.....I know many people that waste money. Buying two or more of the same item, when it is on offer and never actually using any of them.....
Many here do not recycle as they cannot be bothered. It is all too much effort.
It saddens me, it really does.

Like you we have cut down on many things. I seem to spend most of my life recycling this or that.

I have nine composters in my well as kitchen and garden greenery, I also shred paper to put in there....

I am constantly trying to think of ways to save money and to help the planet.........

River said...

I don't do a lot of recycling here apart from the recyclables that go in the recycle bins for collection, but I have stopped buying unnecessary items. The worst case of waste I've ever seen was on the Oprah show once, where a woman had a house absolutely packed to the rafters with clothes and other stuff. As she said, If she buys an article of clothing she just "has to have it" in all the colours available. Household goods as well. Oprah's team emptied the house and used 7 semi-trailers to cart the stuff to warehouses for sorting and selling in a giant garage sale.

Mon said...

It's the cheap disposable plastic items that entice people to buy them. Their price makes it okay for most people to buy, even when finances arelow. We've been living like this for so long, we don't know how to stop.

Inevitably, the cheap stuff breaks and we 'have' to buy new stuff. neverending.

What is it about Canberra though?

naturewitch said...

Dear All

Thanks for your comments. I have been pondering this state of being, now that I am over my initial disbelief and anger.

I'm wondering whether this is all due to people not feeling fulfilled with their lives - the hungry soul syndrome.

It is very sad, because if they just looked around them and connected with the real world (not the consumption driven facade), then I'm sure they would be more conscious of the consequences of their actions.

Oh, for a conscious world and a sustainable footprint! xx