7GenBlog | Seventh Generation
Skip to Content

7GenBlog

  • Pin It

What is the Story of Stuff?

Categories:
0 comments
Author:

We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth saying again: The Story of Stuff is a film you’ve got to see.

See Full Post
  • Pin It

Overstuffed

0 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And I don’t just mean the arrival here in the Far Northern Hinterlands of the season’s first big snow. I mean the scene out at the mall and inside the SuperMegaMonsterMart, where our great nation is currently engaged in the fine art of spending an estimated $474 billion holiday bucks on, well… just stuff.

It’s a weird phenomenon, this shopping thing. I never did quite get it. Though I confess I can browse a good book store or record shop for days, I can’t see the appeal of general shopping as entertainment. I like to know what I need, make sure I really do need it, then go in, get it, and get out fast. I cringe every time I hear an economist talk about how consumer spending is the lynchpin of the American economy. We’re all depending on shopping?! That’s the gas in our collective economic engine? That’s a little weird. Because all the stuff people are buying has to come from somewhere, be made of something, and go some place when it dies.

There’s an excellent new film premiering online today that looks at all this. It’s a 20-minute documentary from activist Annie Leonard called the Story of Stuff that examines the real costs of consumption and the sort of big giant hamster wheel that we’ve become trapped on.

Check it out, pass it along, take it viral. (The website also has some good resources and other ideas to explore.) There’s a lot more people could be doing than shopping and they’d be a lot happier doing it. (What say we build our economy on environmental restoration, for example?) Sure we need some stuff. But we’re way overdoing it and paying for all the things we buy in a lot more ways than one.

See Full Post
  • Pin It

Shopocalypse

0 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

Talk about giving thanks…Thankfully, I can’t see it from here, but today is Black Friday, that deeply spooky day-after-Thanksgiving, when Americans who scare me flock to stores and malls well before the sun has even risen for what’s become a thoroughly bizarre national tradition: An institutionalized day of mass overconsumption on a grand scale.

I guarantee you that before the day is out I will have seen film footage of someone getting seriously injured in a 4:00 am Florida Wal-Mart stampede for poor quality LCD TVs priced like Pop Tarts. I will have seen video of my fellow citizens locked in fisticuffs over the last remaining box of the season’s hottest must-have toy. And I will have watched a mall parking lot interview in which Mom, Dad, and the kids stand beside a carload of freshly acquired stuff and declare how much fun it is to come together as a family like this.

I have nothing against against the holidays. I like to share a nice Thanksgiving turkey like anyone else, and Christmas is a magical time of myth and imagination for my daughter. But elsewhere in the country a strange madness seems to have taken hold, a frightening disease that makes people want more and more and more until now the holidays have been transformed into a celebration of needless acquisition that, disturbingly, is happening earlier and earlier each year. Those quiet days of peace and family I remember growing up have become all about eating too much and buying too much and spending too much, and the earth is groaning under the insane weight of it all. I think it's time to ask ourselves: Do we really need to go out and stuff our shopping carts less than 12 hours after we’ve finished stuffing our faces like it was our last supper? (Someone told me yesterday that Americans consume between 5,000 and 7,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day. That’s like 3 days worth of eating! What’s up with that?) Do we really need a "shopping season"? Where does it all end?

For my family, it ends before it starts. We’re celebrating Buy Nothing Day today. We’re staying home and eating leftovers. Curling up by the fire and reading a good book. And then we’re going to spend some quality time with our good pastor, Reverend Billy. Here’s hoping more of our fellow country men and women see the wisdom of his sage advice soon and that weird symptoms of unsustainability like Black Friday and the binge era of overconsumption it so perfectly encapsulates go the way of the dinosaur.

See Full Post
  • Pin It

Inspired Consumerism

0 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

Let the Friday feast of words continue with this guest post from Sarah Schultz-Nielsen. Sarah is a public librarian and enjoys simple things, like spending time with her husband and dogs, growing raspberries in their yard and watching The Closer on DVD. She was raised on a dairy farm in Maine, which now grows organic vegetables and grass-fed beef.

I became inspired to do my part after I was at a meeting and heard a financial advisor recommend Ellis Jones' The Better World Shopping Guide. I was impressed that someone who had both money and the ability to manage it (which equals power to me) introduced such a gem. I don't have lots of money and often feel powerless, which really is a bad excuse for apathy. This book gives me no excuses. The book is physically small but the information inside is big, if not enormous. Everything from airlines to vitamins are rated based on issues including employee treatment to community involvement. I've been using it to make changes in my household that make me feel that my husband and I are helping the world to be better. Or our world, at least.

I have been buying a lot of the products I've learned about in the book at my local health food store, called Harvest Time. It is woman-owned and operated and small in comparison to some of the large, whole food markets but they have a great selection and actually use the products they sell. I buy my paper products, laundry detergent, dish liquid and bath products there. I also buy my husband's Grandy Oats cereal, and my favorite, Little Lad's Bakery Herbal Popcorn. If stranded on a desert island, I'd want my library, this popcorn and potable water. It's divine. The products made by Little Lad's are all vegan. Although they don't have a website, they do have a Cafe in Portland, ME with a $3.99 lunch buffet.

Awareness of what I buy, wear and consume just makes me a responsible human being. Buying, wearing and consuming things often gives people a lot of pleasure, albeit empty. I find composting, wearing thrift store clothes and using non-petroleum based dish liquid just plain sexy.

See Full Post
  • Pin It

Intolerable Beauty: The Art of Mass Consumption

0 comments
Author:

Chris Jordan’s photographic work is featured in this month's issue of Good magazine. His work focuses on consumerism, and it’s true: a picture is worth a thousand words. He has a show of his opening up in New York City this week.


Chassis Yard #1, Seattle 2003

In his own words:

“The pervasiveness of our consumerism holds a seductive kind of mob mentality. Collectively we are committing a vast and unsustainable act of taking, but we each are anonymous and no one is in charge or accountable for the consequences. I fear that in this process we are doing irreparable harm to our planet and to our individual spirits.
See Full Post
  • Pin It

Happy Earth Day! (Here’s To the Only Planet We’ve Got…)

0 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

It’s Earth Day. That annual rite of spring where everyone becomes an environmentalist for at least a moment or two. For those of us who prefer to wear the label year-round (and increasingly that’s most of us), it’s a fitting occasion to pause for a moment, get out the imaginary camera, and take a virtual snapshot of sorts of today’s moment in time.

Such photos can tell us more than might be thought. For the big picture itself can often be found hiding in the details that the smaller image captures. So as we open the shutter and capture the light, what does our Earth Day photo say? That people are talking. People are thinking. People are acting. Awareness is reaching critical mass. That, above all else, is the reason to celebrate. Change is arriving. Here are the latest clues:

Let’s begin with a simple question: Why Earth Day? Here are a million wonderful, beautiful, magnificent, miraculous reasons you won’t find anywhere else. And that’s literally only about the half of it.

Weird weather? Melting mountains? Perspiring permafrost? Soaring sea levels? Color me officially concerned. Which is why it’s heartening to find our fellow Americans at last waking up and smelling the climatological coffee.

See Full Post