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Rethinking consumption

A caddy

Today's (western) society has had an unprecedented impact on a large part of humanity's progress in both rich and poor countries. The life expectancy in countries such as India has increased from 30-40 years a century ago to the current 60 years of age. In France, it has increased from 50 to 80 years of age. In developed countries, there is an unprecedented quality of life thanks to consumption: fast transportation is available, there is plenty of food and a wide variety of it, leisure opportunities abound and health care is good... But all this has been made possible thanks to cheap and abundant energy. Today, we realize that our energy sources are becoming rarer and we must rethink our society in order for it to be sustainable.

Raw materials, manual and other forms of labor are needed to produce an object, and hydrocarbons are required for transporting goods, which takes place mainly by road. While certain goods are essential, some other objects are just status symbols that are not all that useful, but rather, serve to enhance the image of the owner: large saloons synonymous with wealth, mini PCs, etc. Try to review your consumption by asking yourself if the object you intend to buy will really be useful and whether it will make you happier or not. If the answer is yes, ask yourself if you can obtain it without actually having to buy it, e.g. by borrowing or renting. Failing which, buy the most "society-friendly" model (i.e. the most ecological and one that is not made by kids in Asia). Finally, when you no longer need the item, instead of throwing it away, you could:

> Sell it as a secondhand item on eBay or at a flea market
> Give it to an association or to the poor
> Recycle it yourself, e.g. by salvaging the amplifiers, hard disk and printer from an old PC set, or by turning an old T shirt into a cleaning rag. Gather fallen branches in your garden for your fireplace.
> Bring used items to the shop where it was bought or to a recycling center to have it recycled.
> Keep it at home.
> Put it in the trash only as a last resort.

Last of all, try not to live to consume; learn to appreciate the simpler pleasures in life instead, such as seeing a smile on a pretty lady or child's face, hearing the birds or the wind, taking a stroll, etc. We must consume to live, but not live to consume. This is the motto of my website and that of those who wish to encourage sustainable development.

Have a nice day.

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