Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Overshoot day: consumption

According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches 3 hours and 46 minutes of TV each day (more than 52 days of nonstop TV-watching per year). By age 65 the average American will have spent nearly 9 years glued to the tube!

  1. Number of TV commercials seen in a year by an average child: 30,000
  2. Number of TV commercials seen by the average American by age 65: 2 million
  3. Percentage of Americans who believe that "most of us buy and consume far more than we need": 82%
All of this television consumption cannot be good for us! Think about the endless commercials which tell us how to live and what to consume. I watched TV the other day (egads) and saw a Target commercial where items and people were piled on top of one another. The jingle was catchy - until you listened to the words. The words were "want want need need." I can't recall what else was in the jingle, but the message was clear; see all of this? You need it and you want it. Target has everything you want and need.

No wonder we are a country of over consumers. We have so much stuff and are encouraged to purchase even more. We feel that we need more money to support our lives, yet we keep spending more and more. More money is not the answer. Spending less is the answer. We need to prioritize what is actually needed rather than try to purchase to fulfill our needs. I know that I am much happier now that I don't have this endless desire to accumulate stuff. It is forcing me to examine my self and what makes me happy.

What I have found makes me happy is having less stuff. Choosing to live a much more sustainable lifestyle. Not giving in to advertisements. I know that I can free up resources for those who are in need by my choice to consume less. I think too many people don't think about their community and are only out for themselves. We need to start thinking about ourselves as one member in this world.

Read about World Overshoot day here:


Kelly said...

Excellent post. Reminds me of the bible passage about the "lust of the eyes." If I don't see it, don't know it exists, I can't possibly want it. Thats why any catalogs that come to our house are immediately thrown into the recycle bin, & when DS watches TV, its a video or the commercial-free Noggin network.

BTW, I found your blog through your guest post on Sally's blog.

Also, congrats on the new little guy.

baloghblog said...

Makes you wonder why people feel that they "don't have time to do anything..." It's the most frequent complaint that my friends make.

We "killed cable" about 3 months ago, and now I feel an almost 'abundance' of time. (Then again I don't have a houseful of little ones - congrats! by the way)

Anonymous said...

By turning off the TV and tuning out the advertisers, you can focus on what's really important in your life. The natural by-product of doing that is an increase joy and decreased stress. We're so bombarded by outside messages telling us what we want that we can't hear our true selves think. What everybody really "wants" is a sense of connectedness and love. You can't find that at Target!

Gavrielah said...

Your post really touched me because this is exactly the transition I am going through right now. For so many years I thought I was supposed to acquire MORE and bigger. I didn't realize how badly I'd been sucked in through clever (and even not-so-clever) marketing.

Now, I have 3 children (13,11,8) who have grown up with a consumer mentality. I have to figure out how to get them to change their way of thinking and get them to see that those cute and slick ads are trying to manipulate them.

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

I have my first simplicity circle meeting next week! It's a new group that will meet (at least at first) at my apartment. Any advice?

For most of us, at least part of the answer is definitely to cut back. However, I was reminded last night that there are also many truly poor families still in the US. Two of my families in my class at work have cut back to the bare minimum--they don't have cable, they don't eat out, etc.--yet they still find themselves struggling to keep food on the table and to make sure the utilities are paid. They work, and it doesn't take much work to make you ineligible for foodstamps and the like, so they are truly struggling. I realized last night how one of the moms in those families has dark rings under her eyes. It's no wonder.

I guess what I'm saying is, while we should certainly be mindful of cutting back, we should also remember that there are people in the US who aren't being wasteful but are just truly poor. And we (as a society) need to figure out how to fix that as much as we can, as well.

BurdockBoy said...

All of the advertising on television is often overlooked as harmful. Many people focus their attention to bringing awareness of keeping children away from the sex and violence on television, which is easier to keep away from watching eyes. The ads promoting consumerism can hardly be ignored, especially by children. TV advertising isn't a billion dollar industry for anything.

RAS said...

Right on! A very good post. I agree with your thoughts on consumption and advertising. The very reason advertising was created was to make us buy things we didn't need! Back in the 1920s a bunch of businessman realized that almost all Americans had everything they truly needed, and if they were going to continue selling lots of products, they had to 'create' the demand for them. Thus was born marketing.

And congrats on the little one -he is too cute. I want one or three just like him (someday).