One of the benefits of spending time in other cultures is that it clears the window into our own. I’m sure you can think of times when you’ve had ah-ha moments out of your element. Sometimes close to home. Sometimes far.
When I travel, our culture of consumerism comes into sharp focus. We buy more than any other culture in the world. (With the possible exception of Australians, who are quite likely equal to North Americans.)
The time spent shopping around the world may balance. If you live from day to day, for example in Africa or Southeast Asia, without a refrigerator, shopping for vegetables at the outdoor market takes time. The tomatoes are here. The carrots are there. And there’s visiting to be done.
Much of our shopping falls into the category of leisure. We entertain ourselves by buying more clothes for our overflowing closets. We buy things that advertisers have convinced us we need.
There’s a balance I try to achieve in working in a fair trade non-profit which sells products. Part of me wants to say, “Stop buying so much!” and the other part says, “But, if you’re going to buy anyway, at least make wise choices. We’re fortunate to have a lot of options - buying socially responsible, green, ethical, fair trade, organic, local.
I want to learn more. Tell me about your ah-ha moments and about how you deal with the challenge of living in a consumer society.