Saturday, September 6, 2008

Affluence vs. Influence

If you're reading this blog, odds are you've heard about the APLS group - Affluent Persons Living Sustainably. It's a group of environmentally-conscious folks who are doing their best not to trash the planet with disposable plastic, gas-guzzling vehicles and feverish over-consumption.

Well, when the idea of 'APLS' was first introduced, many people balked at the "A" word - Affluent. "Hey! I'm not a Hollywood Starlet! I'm not Bill Gates! I don't have money falling out my ass! How can you call me Affluent?!?!"

Look it up, dude. You are.

We ALL are. We have food in our bellies, medicine for ailments and pillows for our heads. By global standards, we are literally kings among commoners.

Unfortunately, however, we are still obsessed with getting richer. Buying more. Consuming more. Owning more. Why is this? Study after study has shown that more money, more consumption (beyond the basics, of course) does not make us happier. So why do we work like crazy towards even greater affluence?

Wealth should, in theory, provide us with more free time. I mean, we no longer HAVE to grow our own food, build our own shelters, hunt or fish, or simply work to survive. And yet - because of our consumeristic ways - we have less free time than we did 50 years ago. We are working longer, to earn more, so we can buy more. We have to spend more time shopping. More time caring for our possessions. More time sorting through our crap every year to hold a garage sale, so we can make room for new crap. It's a vicious cycle.

So what would happen, instead, if we took all this affluence and instead of pissing it away on shit we don't need we used it to influence environmental change? To influence our leaders to legislate green house gas emissions limits? To influence companies to design more environmentally friendly products? Or to simply spend our time and money giving to environmental causes and those in need.

How do we do this? Simple.

So how do you choose to spend your wealth? Do you choose to influence others or is it more important to flaunt your affluence? When your time is up will you be saying "Thank goodness I bought that Wii" or "I'm glad I helped make a difference"?

The choice is yours. Choose wisely.


Green Bean said...

Beautiful point!! Instead of buying stuff, let's make a real difference in this world. I suspect we'll all end up a lot happier with a better planet than another new cell phone.

Billie said...

I would say that for the most part... we aren't stuff buyers. Sadly, the bulk of our salary goes to meet our basic needs - groceries, child support, cars and our tiny condo.

We do buy stuff but I think for the most part... it is big ticket items that last a while... like the new sewing machine to replace my 25 year old sewing machine.

But do I think that we will be making much of a difference? Probably not. My husband is not big into helping others especially if it requires opening his pocket book.

We will do our best to be anti-consumerism but probably won't do much more than that.

MamaBird said...

Love this post - in addition, don't forget the power of the money you in, what kind of job do you take? One that makes more $$ so you can give more to causes you care about or one that directly works for change but pays less? Both legit choices, eh? And I totally agree about the hamster wheel that is job+stuff+bighouse=not living.

Bobbi said...

"Do you choose to influence others or is it more important to flaunt your affluence?" What a great question!

Great post!

Going Green Mama said...

Great post. How many of us can't contribute to X worthy cause but don't mind filling up at Starbucks, grabbing more stuff on the lunch hour at the mall, or just eating $10 lunches? Think about the difference we could make!