Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Green Living: Let go of your stuff & find a reuse group
Through my yoga practice, I have learned to let go of many things, tangible and intangible. I teach consumer law and I am always struck by how little we question why is consumption in our society so high in the first place. In other words, why do we think we need so much STUFF. Well, spring has sprung, and it is time for some cleaning and recycling. I found this cool organization. Here is how they describe themselves: The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,341 groups with 4,906,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free.
There are also many other reuse groups around the world, and you can find one in your area here.
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Of course our economic system is utterly dependent on conspicuous consumption.
The work of the economist Juliet B. Schor is essential to any discussion of the economics and culture of consumerism, e.g.:
-The Overspent American: Upscaling, Downshifting, and the New Consumer (1998).
-Do Americans Shop Too Much? (2000).
-(With Douglas Holt as co-editor) The Consumer Society: A Reader (2000).
-Born to Buy: The Commercialized Society and the New Consumer Culture (2004).
Our consumption habits need to be placed in global distributive justice and environmental frameworks. On the latter, please see the list I posted on "ecological and environmental worldviews" at the Ratio Juris blog. On the former see, for instance:
-Bardhan, Pranab. Scarcity, Conflicts, and Cooperation: Essays in the Political and Institutional Economics of Development. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005.
-Bardhan, Pranab, Samuel Bowles and Michael Wallerstein, eds. Globalization and Egalitarian Distribution. New York: Russell Sage Foundation/Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.
-Barry, Christian and Thomas W. Pogge, eds. Global Institutions and Responsibilities: Achieving Global Justice. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.
-Dasgupta, Partha. An Inquiry into Well-Being and Destitution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
-Dreze, Jean and Amartya Sen. Hunger and Public Action. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
-Dreze, Jean, Amartya Sen and Athar Hussain, eds. The Political Economy of Hunger. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
-Hurrell, Andrew and Ngaire Woods, eds. Inequality, Globalization, and World Politics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
-Kerbo, Harold R. World Poverty: Global Inequality and the Modern World System. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.
Finally, on the relative weakness of the Green "lifestyle" argument (as much as my wife and I are, and have been for close to 30 yrs., committed to putting it into practice) to effect the necessary environmental changes, please see Robert E. Goodin's Green Political Theory (1992).
Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Apr 22, 2008 12:43:17 PM
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