Friday, November 27, 2009

Insatiable is Not Sustainable

"Black Friday," here we are. Although I am gladdened by generosity to others, and cool window displays (like the one that Joie de Vivre is going to post pictures of, ahem ahem), and Christmas Carols, I am saddened by the glut of overconsumption we experience in our culture, and yes, I'm calling it for what it is. It isn't a culture of a little too much of a good thing -- it's a culture firmly stuck in overdrive.
I'm a big fan of natural products, eco-friendly anythings, replacing the polyester in our lives with some nice bamboo... but still. When we go on eco-kicks, we tend to just replace everything we have too much of, so too much polyester becomes too much bamboo. Down in California (on my recent vacation) I saw an enormous moving van -- I'm not talking a U-Haul size, I'm talking a Major Truck -- advertising "eco-friendly moving company" on the sides. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, because we have now acquired so much eco-friendly furniture that we can no longer fit it in a regular sized biodeisel-powered moving van. Okay, maybe it wasn't quite an 18-wheeler, but it was HUGE. That is a frikking lot of bamboo. Or am I being judgmental to suggest that a truly eco-friendly denizen of this earth should be able to restrict themselves long enough to fit their belongings in a smaller compartment?

In a New Yorker review of Jonathan Safran Foer's "Eating Animals," as a response to the accusation that vegetarians are sentimentalist about their fuzzy creatures, the quote is printed:

Two friends are ordering lunch. One says, “I’m in the mood for a burger,” and orders it. The other says, “I’m in the mood for a burger,” but remembers that there are things more important to him than what he is in the mood for at any given moment, and orders something else. Who is the sentimentalist?

I think this is spot-on, not just because I "passed" on a very delicious-smelling turkey last night, but because it seems that our moods and whims have come to rule us. We can do all we want to channel our desires into healthier products (bamboo vs polyester) but unless we learn to say "no" to some desires we will never be free of the endless cycle of production, consumption, disposal, and the desperate attempt to cover our own tracks.

For the third year in a row, my family is giving one another cards this Christmas instead of gifts. I know that not everyone's sisters are the brilliant poets that mine are, but I have cherished these cards as much as I would any tangible gift. I commend the practice, and close with the words from St. Suess:
Maybe Christmas, perhaps,
doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas, perhaps,
means a little bit more.

And for more fantastic slogans of the like, check out

1 comment:

  1. Talitha - great post! Another reminder of who we are supposed to be instead of being someone who we are not. Thanks!