With sustainability and trying to create a sustainable society I feel like America’s biggest issue is our consumerism; the constant need to buy things, buy new things, update our items, etc. Sometimes I feel these pulls, but I remind myself that doubt I actually need that item. Often waiting a designated amount of time (like a week) will show me that I actually don’t need said object or I will look for a used option, so I am at least not adding to the use of new materials. While it may be too late to change this habit for older generations, the younger ones still have a chance.
I am concerned with how to teach my son to not become a consumer. This is very challenging from the get go, since I feel the best way is to practice what you preach. When you are pregnant people keep telling you everything thing you need – it kind of scared me and showed me why people think children are so expensive. I tried to keep it to a minimum, we decided against the changing table, we use cloth diapers, and tried to borrow as much as possible (co-sleeper, toys and other baby equipment that is only used for a few months). Also when possible we bought baby items used (Craigslist is my friend), again in hopes of being more sustainable (reuse is part of the three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle). Then there are the clothes. You are gifted so many clothes. Why? Because they are cute? I soon realized that you only need about 10 days worth of clothing and all else is a bit unnecessary. I am starting to realize the same for myself, so hopefully I can minimize my stuff in the near future.
But back to the question- how do I teach my kid not to be a consumer? It is constantly being pushed in his face. Christmas, Easter, Halloween, birthdays, and any other Americanized holiday. They are all about consuming, all about getting something. Personally I plan to forgo the Easter baskets because I will never understand a bunny handing out eggs. As for Christmas and birthdays, hopefully we can discourage presents from people, or ask for books instead. Also before each of these holidays clear out old toys and donate to children in need, because why does a child need a room full of toys when he finds the kitchen spatula the best toy?
On top of all the holidays forcing stuff on my kid and forcing him to demand stuff, there is the branding on every type of product he may need- sippy cups, pajamas, pacifiers, etc. Why do I have to decide what type of character (that I have never even heard of) needs to be on his toothbrush? I can only be thankful that we do not have television, so we avoid all the children shows and ads directed toward children in that manner.
We are on this adventure of avoiding consumerism, I will keep you updated on our journey. If you have any tips, please comment and let me know.