We consume way too much in today’s society. But what do we do about it?
It’s funny how my mind starts to wander sometimes. I was reading the blogs in my feed reader yesterday, when I came across this post at My Two Dollars. David highlights a video on consumerism in today’s society. (You can watch the whole video here).
Now I don’t agree with everything in the movie, by any means. But when the narrator got to the part about consumption, I was completely on board. As a society, we do consume a lot. Too much. We waste an awful lot.
While everyone who agrees that over-consumption is a problem has their own ideas on how to fix it, the important thing is that we agree there’s a problem.
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but watching that movie caused me to start asking a lot of questions.
I think I know the answer to that one. When Jesus fed the multitudes, he instructed his disciples to gather the extra food, so nothing was wasted. When God provided manna in the desert for the Israelites, He instructed them to gather only what they needed for that day.
There are other examples in scripture, but it seems the underlying message is that we shouldn’t waste. We shouldn’t waste our time, our abilities, or even our stuff. We are instructed to be good stewards of what the Lord has given us: not gluttonous, not stingy, but using what we need. That brought me to my next question
I think a lot of what we consume is products that are supposed to make our lives easier. There are vacuums that do all the work for you; disposable dust cloths, so you don’t have to spray and launder your own; pre-made baby food in little jars, so you don’t have to steam and puree food for your baby.
I think that’s a two-fold answer. First of all, I think a lot of times we are overworked. At this point in time, many families need to incomes to survive. They truly need both incomes, because things are so expensive.
People work hard at their jobs – sometimes 50-60 hours a week. There just isn’t time to do a lot of family and leisure activities, so we turn to gadgets and consumables to make our lives easier.
I’ve been reading Your Money or Your Life (and I’m almost finished…I promise!), and I agree with some of the premises in that book. We trade our lives for our paychecks, and sometimes it’s not a good trade. Our jobs suck more out of us than our paychecks can replenish. And something needs to change. I won’t get into that here, because I could probably write a book on that. Actually, the book has already been written. :)
I think the second problem is that we have become a society that glorifies leisure. I know that’s the polar opposite of what I just wrote, but hear me out. We spend so much time at the drudgery of our jobs, that we embrace the thought of full time leisure someday.
People dream of retiring by 40 so they can relax on the beach and travel the world. There’s nothing wrong with either the beach or traveling, but I don’t think we were made for full time leisure.
In Genesis 2:15, the Bible says
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
He put the man in the garden to work it. We were made for work. In past times work was a necessity. Men worked the fields, planted the crops, and tended the cattle. Women made the bread, scrubbed the laundry by hand, and sewed clothes for their families. The Proverbs 31 woman was definitely not a woman of leisure!
I’m not suggesting that we toss the washing machines and go back to hand washing our clothes, but I am suggesting that a life of total leisure isn’t what we were made for.
I think there needs to be a balance. We need to work. We need to provide for our families. We need to work alongside the rest of our families, spending more time together. And we need to stop wasting our resources.
What is the right answer? I’m not sure. But something needs to change. I don’t think we can sustain this pace forever. For now, I’m going to focus on changing my own life. I’m simplifying Downsizing. Recycling. Consuming less. Care to join me?
Is consumerism a problem? What’s the best way to fix it? How do you reconcile your spending and consuming habits with your faith? Or are they totally separate? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Photo by tinou bao.
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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