Our fifth mission, Agents, is to live wisely by reducing our consumption and dramatically lightening our impact on planet Earth.
“Each of us in the U.S. is targeted with over 3,000 advertisements a day. We see more advertisements in one year than people 50 years ago saw in a lifetime. And if you think about it, what’s the point of an ad except to make us unhappy with what we have? So 3,000 times a day we are told our hair is wrong, our skin is wrong, our clothes are wrong, our furniture is wrong, our cars are wrong - we are wrong - but it can all be made right if we just go shopping.”
-Annie Leonard, The Story of Stuff
In the Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard explains how our material economy has come to be what it is today, and the disastrous consequences it has had on our environment and lives. Since about the 1950s, the national happiness of the United States has steadily been going down as rates of consumption and house size have been increasing. Could there be a connection here?
Today’s mission is really about going from being considered a consumer back to our natural birthrights as brilliant and whole human beings!
When we recognize that we are already whole, just the way we are, we don’t need the latest products to give us an external sense of worth. As a result, we buy less, have a lighter footprint on the planet, and focus on the things that truly make us happy... Things like friends and family, learning new skills, giving back to the world, and appreciating meaningful experiences.
Here are some ways to reduce our waste while increasing our connection with others:
- Join a gifting community for free like “Buy Nothing”, NextDoor, or Freecycle to begin sharing things you no longer need with others instead of throwing them away!
- Instead of buying something new, see if you can buy it used! Gifting communities are often great places to ask for something, and often times, you will be given what you need for free.
- Start a community “tool library” where members contribute the tools they have so that together everyone has what they need. (It makes little sense for every house to have a shovel when you only need it once every 3 years!)
- Recycle and compost whenever you can! Encourage your family and friends to do the same! Relabel your garbage can with a sign that says “landfill” as a reminder that nothing can really be thrown “away”.
- If you don’t have a compost bin, start one! Or, if your community picks up yard waste make certain you use it for food and yard waste.
- When you go to the grocery store, bring reusable bags to avoid one more plastic or paper bag from going home with you. (If everybody did this, think of how many bags would be saved!)
- Use a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic water bottles that leach toxins into the water.
- Recycle old electronics (“e-waste”) responsibly by giving them to e-waste facilities.
- Transition from paper billing to online billing!