So much stuff!

by Andrew Tidswell, Blackwood Sustainable Communities Group
This article appeared on page 4 of Adelaide East Herald, 11 February 2021









We shouldn’t be surprised that our supermarket shelves have been emptied of toilet paper and pasta on occasions this past twelve months.  It is the nature of our economic system that we have been conditioned to buy more stuff so that, when we face a crisis, we panic buy.

We seem to have lost the art of buying only what we need. Governments encourage us to keep buying stuff ‘to help the economy’ which is a lazy way to manage an economy, let alone a society. Advertising encourages us to buy more stuff to keep business profitable which is good for them but poor for us and the environment which struggles to cope with our excessive consumption and waste disposal.

Our homes are filled with a lot of stuff that we rarely use. Our waste bins are overflowing with so much stuff that landfill sites are filling up. Our credit cards are maxed out from all the stuff we are purchasing. This is integral to a consumer culture that requires us to continuously purchase, use up and discard stuff.

Consider re-thinking that into a ‘materialistic’ culture where we value materials so much that we consciously and deliberately choose to purchase things that are of quality, will last and give us pleasure. I have some of my grandfather’s garden tools, which are still strong and useful.

Some tips on being a careful and environmentally responsible consumer which have helped me include:

  • Buy durable long-lasting items
  • Avoid disposable products unless they can be re-used or recycled
  • Consider whether we really need a new gadget or tool and whether we will get a long life out of it
  • Borrow items that we may only need occasionally, and share things with others.  We don’t all need a vast collection of every imaginable item
  • Wring the last drop of usefulness from everything we buy
  • Learn how to sew, mend and repair things to prolong their life
  • Consider having some cheap crockery and cutlery for a party rather than disposable plastic-ware
  • Go shopping with a list and avoid impulse buying
  • Borrow books and magazines from the library
  • Buy clothes that we will wear a lot, and items that can be mixed and matched creatively

While recycling is important, the best way to a sustainable future is to buy and discard much less stuff.

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