Stuff. We all have it, we all want more of it, and we are all always throwing some of it away. We are a culture of consumers. To buy is to be to some of us, and the choices we make in our purchases have a much greater impact than just on our credit card statement. When we purchase something it is hard to imagine all the processes that have been put into place to create the product. To the consumer it appears as if by magic, and we all make purchases without really thinking about where something really came from. But in reality everything has to be created. Resources must be extracted, transported, configured, molded, transported again, purchased, and eventually thrown away.
I recently had to consider a purchase I made this past year; a $7 toaster from Target. Now when I purchased it I saw the price and analyzed my wallet and all I could see was that this was perfect for my needs and budget. Recently the $7 toaster has decided to have a mid life crisis and no longer want to be a bread pusher. It simply is satisfied adorning my kitchen counter and would like to do nothing more. Who would have thought my $7 toaster would stop working after 8 months? Hmmm. I began to calculate how much this toaster actually cost: it’s resources were extracted somewhere, it had to be manufactured in Asia, transported here through who knows how many avenues, stocked, eventually purchased, and now unless turned into art will be thrown away. Through this whole journey people were working and getting paid along the way to create and transport this toaster. Now, how in the world could this toaster cost only $7?!
In the journey towards sustainable living one of the most affective ways that everyone can impact the planet and people in a positive way is to be a conscious consumer. Yet in a world where the economic outcome is unpredictable it can be hard to try to consider the triple bottom line: People, Planet, Profit. Most of us are just trying to pay the bills and get food on the table. However, with the advances of technology we as consumers are fortunate to now have more choices than ever! We can impact the planet and society in a positive way without having to dent our wallets. All it takes is a little bit of thought :).
To learn more about exactly where our STUFF comes from check out this great video from Free Range Studios: The Story of Stuff . It will change how you look at toasters too.