This article on pathological consumption made me realize how much I'd internalized our collective consumption madness. Sonic screwdriver remote control? I posted about that in the Tardis group. I've linked to other cute but mostly useless gadgetry in Geek & Nerd Haven. Time to rethink.

Time to Face the Facts: Our Level of Consumption Is Pathological

... many of the products we buy, especially for Christmas, cannot become obsolescent. The term implies a loss of utility, but they had no utility in the first place. An electronic drum-machine t-shirt; a Darth Vader talking piggy bank; an ear-shaped i-phone case; an individual beer can chiller; an electronic wine breather; a sonic screwdriver remote control; bacon toothpaste; a dancing dog:...

The fatuity of the products is matched by the profundity of the impacts. Rare materials, complex electronics, the energy needed for manufacture and transport are extracted and refined and combined into compounds of utter pointlessness. When you take account of the fossil fuels whose use we commission in other countries, manufacturing and consumption are responsible for more than half of our carbon dioxide production( 2). We are screwing the planet to make solar-powered bath thermometers and desktop crazy golfers.

Rivers are poisoned to manufacture talking fish. This is pathological consumption: a world-consuming epidemic of collective madness, rendered so normal by advertising and the media that we scarcely notice what has happened to us.

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Like anyone with a not-too-big income, I need mountains of things - or is that true? It isn't, and that feels very good. You can use sites like this one to cure yourself of wanting all those unnecessary things. And it has a very positive influence: "I buy, therefore I am." changes into "I am and I´ve got other things to do."

This thread reminded me of one of my favorite songs by Tracy Chapman. 

Mountains O Things - Tracy Chapman

Yes, some of the things sold are just weird stuff you don't need. But, for some reason people buy these things. It is all based on profits.

for some reason? It must be the ads, that tell us constantly that we'll be happy, smart and successful when we buy junk.

There's a lot of social pressure this time of the year to participate in Secret Santa type gift exchanges. At my gym today the staff were doing that. That social custom almost guarantees useless things will be purchased. Tchotchkes anyone?

Here's a humorous example of pathological consumption.

Yup, totally agree. I don't make it a practice to give gifts just because it's obligatory for a season or a birthday. I wait until something strikes my eye and tells me that so-and-so would really like to have it. And then I give it. This always surprises and pleases the person I give it to, and since they know I don't give for birthdays or holidays, they are relieved of having to reciprocally give me stuff that I probably don't want or like, anyway. I already have too much junk in my house, and I DON'T want to add to it! If they want to please me, they can take me out to dinner, or to a movie, or just spend some time with me -- those are the best gifts of all! :-)

Same system here, and it works very well. I call them un-birthday presents. And I wrapped all the usable junk that accumulated in the last year (small gifts from shops or books I don't want any longer) and made a small pile under the xmastree in the entrance hall of this building - the next day half of it was gone and I found the neighbours had followed the example - took a book that was new to me.

The Weather Underground is run by a fellow who was the first civilian in a hurricane hunter, and is a strong proponent for mitigating problems associated with human-caused global climate change.


In addition to a whole set of pages on the Website with the evidence for and debunking denialist claims, he also has an interesting video about a company named Relan, a company thinking outside the box.


Six hundred thousand tons of polyvinyl chloride billboard poster material goes into landfills every year. Relan was founded with the idea of recycling these billboards (reuse being the best form of recycling), hiring American workers to create new objects from old billboards such as purses, wallets, and carry-bags.


It also gives new life to the original purpose of the advert, a bonus for the company which commissioned the billboard: its product or service continues to be advertised. - James.

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