I am a not terribly proud member of the American upper middle class. This means that I can afford to buy shiny, new things. And for many years, I avoided buying used (thrift stores, used CDs, etc.), arguing to myself that I should leave those items to people who are less able to afford the shiny, new things.
Over the last year, however, I have begun to re-evaluate my views on the world, what I believe is right and wrong, what I should get outraged about. I'm not done with my journey, and still have many unanswered questions, but I feel quite certain that:
1. Humans spend too much time worrying about other humans, and way too little time worrying about other species and this world that supports life.
2. Humans are consuming our own planet at an ever-increasing pace, digging vast holes in it, burning and clearing massive swaths of land, sucking up the water and spitting out harsh chemicals, etc.
You've probably heard the saying "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". These words are offered in that order very deliberately:
First, reduce consumption.
Second, reuse things that have already been consumed (bought).
Third and last, recycle things into new kinds of things.
Given the human propensity for consumption, is it any surprise that there is such a strong emphasis on recycle and very little push for reduction in our societies? Reduction, especially the sort of radical reduction I expect we will need to avoid massive catastrophes and die-backs in the future, will cost jobs, perhaps through the world economy into a depression. Oh and the rich and powerful will not be able to get as richer and powerfuler as they would perhaps have liked. So....that's not going to happen on voluntary social basis.
That's why everyone talks about taking that plastic bottle (which required vast resources and thousands of factories to create) and making a reusable grocery bag out of it. Kudos! But sadly inadequate.
Like I said, I am not sure about all of what I am going to change in my life, but I do know this:
New is Bad.
Buying things new is the way to consume the most resources and have the worst impact on our world. So I am going to make every effort to avoid buying new things and instead by used.
For example, I have been listening to Sade's Lovers Rock album. So beautiful....so I decided to order a few more of her CDs from Amazon. But then I asked myself "What are you doing?" and instead found Reckless Records, which buys and sells music. So this morning I took a 10 mile bicycle ride to RR with about 25 CDs I never listen to. Got $24 in store credit and picked up 4 Sade CDs, Tea for the Tillerman (Cat Stevens) and Station to Station (David Bowie) for just an extra $11. Fantastic!