I am settling into a new pattern with these posts as of this week: Something short but hopefully thought-provoking, something more in depth (which may or may not be related to the short piece), and something newsy or timely (usually the Friday Bits and Bobs).
So three posts a week, and we’ll see how that goes. Partly I want to be able to spend some time on the in-depth articles, and also I want your inbox to have just enough of the good stuff, and not too much of ‘just-ok’.
Today then, is a one of the short thoughts!
Much has been written about our seemingly relentless appetite for consumption - buying things. Ever more things.
Our quest for more stuff is certainly one aspect of how difficult it is to ‘solve’ many of our environmental woes. Increasing population, with increasing thirst for more things = unsustainable.
Those who are hellbent on protecting the wealthiest among us (often themselves) would like us to believe that without rampant consumerism, we will never again have either comfort or convenience, like we would somehow end up back in the Middle Ages if we quit going to big box stores.
I’d like to just drop one thought about it:
The opposite of consumption is not non-consumption, or abstinence, or even minimalism or subsistence.
It is creativity.
Consumption is passive. It is acquisition with the expectation of being satisfied by the having.
It seldom works of course, because once we have something new, it now becomes normal and we want something newer or bigger or better. It is the principal of the ‘hedonic treadmill’
Creativity is generative. It involves little expectation of outcome, but rather in the giving over of ourselves to the task of ‘making’, it is the act itself that provides the benefit regardless of the imperfection of the output.
There is also a care with creativity. Making our own clothes, shelves, or toys gives us a sense of stewardship over those items. They are not to be tossed away, but repaired, or re-used.
And we gain variety and uniqueness. The need to mass-produce commercial items cheaply, removes any possibility of deeply personal craft, or true attention to excellence. We need beauty in our lives too.
A pepper grown in my garden will be more nutritious than a pepper I buy from the store. The bread I just baked has just four ingredients and no chemicals. And is tastier. (So delicious)
Art I (or my friends) create will always be more meaningful than a print I buy on a website. I still use the woolly tea cozies my grandmother and Mum knitted decades ago. (I am definitely not a knitter).
The shelves I build will better fit the corner where I need them, and are also likely sturdier than the cheap, plastic pre-made ones I could buy for the same price. Or I could save up to buy the custom-made cabinet from a true artisan across town. That supports creativity too.
I’m not saying we can or should try to replace everything we buy commercially with stuff we make, and I am keenly aware of what a privilege it is to have any time at all for ‘making’.
But there is a case for, along with reducing our material wants overall, participating in the making of at least some of our own things.
Using our hands, learning craftsmanship, being in the moment while we create, also makes us more mindful, patient, probably healthier, and evidence suggests…..happier. A win-win for people and planet.
So maybe instead of your commercially-produced protein bar, make some delicious homemade protein balls. Maybe save a few seed potatoes to plant in pots or the yard when it gets warmer. Maybe make a birthday card for your friend. Maybe make your own calendar, or shopping bag, or mouse mat, or bookend, or window box, or something else you might have otherwise saved in your Amazon cart….?
Some of us are not so talented!! ;)