"My daughter will teach you our ways. Learn well, Jake Sully. Then we will see if your insanity can be cured. from the movie Avatar
The economic experts are crowing that buying has come back. People went out and shopped. It's a kind of insanity that the corpos and the wealthy want us to continue to be afflicted with.
This year, I learned a lot about relocalization, about transition towns, about the post-carbon economy" and woke up to be far more conscious of how we live in a consumer economy that aims to destroy our souls, to make us dependent upon a system that is destructive to community, relationships, the very connections that are essential to healthy functioning of our families and hearts.
I took a different approach to holiday gift giving this year. I didn't buy a single gifty kind of present for the holiday season-- no sweaters, no, fruit cake or wallets" I did buy some socks and sweatshirts for my young adult children--practical stuff. I bought tickets to a show to take the family to so we we could share an experience.
I know I can do even better. Next year, I'll do my buying at local stores, when I can find them, or flea markets where new goods are sold-- and they are growing. I will avoid big box stores. I will avoid products made in China. It will probably take more time, so I'll start doing that shopping early. I'll probably do more shopping on-line too. Actually, I'll probably write more about that shopping and share what I learn about sourcing locally made and sold items. I'd rather buy goods from small local operations even if they are local, far away, than the local department store. The list of department stores i'll even consider buying from is shrinking anyway. I've long avoided Walmart and now refuse to buy from Target, after one of its execs gave to an anti-gay campaign.
I'm hoping that some of the readers of this article will give me a head start. We need to cover the local economy better.
Prices for most products are usually raised to give the retailer, and often, the distributor a big profit margin. If there were a way to take the middleman bite, or at least most of it out of the price of goods, they could cost a lot less, and be more competitive with products made by dollar an hour workers in China.
For example, say a made in China shirt costs $25 in the store. That probably means that it is produced in China for $5 or less. Costs for packaging, packing, shipping, processing, labeling are all added and then profits are put on top. Some companies, like Walmart, have their own factories in China, so they don't have to pay a middleman.
It would be great if cottage industries developed in the US where people or small companies started making products, like shirts, that sell direct, via the web, so the middlemen and the box stores are cut out entirely. There will be some costs-- like bay and amazon charge commissions-- but they are far less than the way the retail store system works.
There are problems with Amazon, for example. They want optical scanning code numbers for products, generally. I know there are other sites for handicrafts.
The thing is this is not a part of the conversation on the news shows and it should be. People in the US can support their fellows by buying locally, either in their local geographic area or locally in the US by finding real humans and very small businesses to buy from. I'm just waking up to this idea. I'm new to it. I may sound kinda dumb, but I want to ramp up my learning curve and get better as a new kind of consumer-- a consumer of a different kind of goods.
I've long been one who looks for used gear, but that doesn't work for me for things like socks and underwear. I've bought my last pair of tightties that have been made in China. From now on they'll probably cost a lot more, but every time I put the more expensive ones one, I'll remember that I've done something good for someone who made t hem, cut down massively on the cost of shipping them and hopefully, they'll last longer.
I'm making an early new years resolution on this.
We'd like to see a lot more articles and diaries on how YOU are transitioning to a life that opts out of the consumer culture and system.