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Spend more on less

One of the biggest causes of environmental damage is the endless production and transportation of consumer goods. It’s kinda what…

By Ian Bickis , in Blogs This Business of the Environment , on February 12, 2008

One of the biggest causes of environmental damage is the endless production and transportation of consumer goods. It’s kinda what makes the world go round.

What’s needed is a different model in the cycle of consumption. That does not mean abandoning capitalism as some suggest (which you can learn all about by buying Kovel’s book), nor any heavy-handed government involvement.

No, it can be accomplished through the forces of the market, without rocking the economic boat.

It requires simply a greater embrace of the repairable, the reusable and products of quality.

It’s catching on with the banning of disposable grocery bags in San Fransisco, but in Vancouver you’ve got to be pretty quick on the draw to stop your groceries from going into the plastic. But grocery bags are small potatoes. The concept has to be embraced on a grand scale.

No more buying disposable Ikea furniture, no more buying cheap appliances that can’t be repaired, no more building cheap houses that fall apart after 20 years.

It requires a greater investment in purchases, and so a shift in people’s perspective. But rather than buying abstract carbon offsets, spend more money on a vacuum that you can fix when it breaks. Re-sole a nice pair of shoes or reupholster a couch. If solid furniture and appliances are beyond the budget then buy quality used stuff. It’s not a sexy solution, but it’s practical and requires only a shift in outlook.

The economy will remain stable as people spend more money on quality goods while reducing their overall volume of purchases. The repair businesses will once again thrive. Well-designed, high-quality products are often still produced in North America, and so might reduce transportation pollution as well. Best of all, people can better enjoy the products they do buy, and that’s an easy sell.

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