Consumption and Personal Responsibility
Posted by Mr. Earhart on February 7, 2011
In watching Manufactured Landscapes, I was reminded of several conversations I had over the summer involving personal responsibility in relation to one’s ecological footprint, and, for that matter, one’s humanitarian footprint. The film begs the question: How much responsibility does one bear in relation to the plight of those working in the dismal conditions of Industrialized SE Asia? One often feels helpless in resolving (or limiting) the horrific consequences of a society driven by consumption. It seems that many segments of society no longer questions why we are doing thing – we simply do. I feel for the people of SE Asia, yet my purchasing habits seem little altered as a result. All I seem to feel is guilt. Over the summer, we came to a quasi-consensus that one needs to recognize that one often has more choices than previously considered. The thought that my actions, on an individual level, are meaningless is a cop-out. I must accept responsibility for my actions. I still have a choice to purchase a 42″ HDTV whilst disposing of my 19″ regular TV. I choose to buy a new shirt when one is available at the Salvation Army. I don’t have to feel guilty about this type of consumption, but I must recognize that my choices have consequences – and, I’m responsible for these consequences.
It also begs the question of the role of government in resolving many of these issues. How much freedom should one have? Should I still to have my groceries bagged via plastic? Should Styrofoam cups, bowls, and plates be legal? Should one be able to buy a Hummer without engaging in the “liberation” of Baghdad? I can personally reject all of the above; but should our government enact policies to force the issue?
I want this post to merely spark a conversation about how society can limit and/or efficiently alter consumption in relation to equitable working conditions and environmental preservation. In relation to these topics, I would prefer comments related to:
- What choices can/should I make as an individual?
- What choices can/should a government make?
For the last 6 months I’ve done an excellent job of shopping next-to-only at thrift stores and avoiding disposable coffee cups. In 2012, I wish to up the ante by bringing my own bags for all groceries. What else should I do? What will you agree to do?
Also, how in the hell do I get that damn phone book from landing on my door step every few months? It’s 2011! No one under the age of 97 uses a phone book.