Rags to Riches


In their book Affluenza, Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss muse over the fact that economists in the middle of the last century predicted that by our time, technological advances would allow us to work only three to four hours a week. How is that going for you?

The authors suggest why the prediction wasn’t fulfilled: “Affluenza,” which they define as “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of over- load, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.”

Keeping up with the Joneses can indeed be infectious and sickening. As American social commentator and actor, Will Rogers, argues, “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, on things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”

One novel remedy for affluenza is
to participate in Buy Nothing New Month. The concept is simple and self- explanatory. It is not about getting around in rags for a month. It is more about taking one month—namely October—to consider if you really do need that desired item and, if you do, whether you can source it some other way like borrowing it, renting it or getting it second-hand.

The slogan for the campaign is fitting: “Shop less. Live more!” And as the website says, “It’s about thinking where our stuff comes from (finite resources) and where it goes when we’re done (often landfill). . . . It’s moving from consumption-driven to community-driven.”

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