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Can we transform consumer culture minus Project Mayhem?

RolexWith the Worldwatch Institute’s call today for a shift away from the global culture of consumerism, we here at Greenbang are suggesting a thought experiment: How much stuff — and what stuff in particular — could you reasonably consider to be all the stuff you’ll ever need?

Look around your home or office, think about what you buy (not counting essential food and medications, of course) and ask yourself: “What more do I need? Could I get by with just the stuff I have today and no more, for the rest of my life?”

The questions were inspired in part by today’s release of the Worldwatch report, “2010 State of the World: Transforming Cultures — from Consumerism to Sustainability.” But they’ve also been something we’ve been mulling ever since we heard Saul Griffith’s brilliant talk last year on “Climate Change Recalculated.” In his presentation, Griffith describes what he calls the “Rolex and Montblanc pen approach to life”:

“(W)hat you want is when your child is born or when you are born to be issued with a Rolex and a Montblanc pen and that’s the only writing implement, the only timepiece you get for your whole life … (N)ow this is every business model you need for the next century: pick any piece of that pie, do it with 1/10 (the) amount of power or make something that will last 10 times longer and you have just done your bit to save the world.”

Can we do it, and do it quickly enough to bring about a sea-change in how we live before the Earth’s natural systems do it for us? We leave you with one passing thought on an alternative post-consumer culture, this one courtesy of Tyler Durden from the 1999 film, “Fight Club”:

“In the world I see — you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway.”

Your thoughts? Tell us in the comments section below.

1 Comment

  • Derek
    Posted January 13, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    “Can we transform consumer culture minus Project Mayhem?”

    The first rule of Project Mayhem is you do not ask questions!

    Answer: no.

    Neo-luddite anarcho-primitivism is the way forward ; )
    Get to work.

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