Citizens need to cut back

Savon Gray

In a capitalist society that preaches having more money equates to having a better life, it is hard to imagine purposely choosing to have less. However, this could be the solution to the problems we see in our society.

“Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” highlights people who have decided to live opposite of the standard in America, and have detached themselves from all the excess items they had grown to feel were necessary. Some moved into tiny houses and some decided to get rid of every possession they could not justify having, leaving them with very little. One woman even decided to only wear 33 pieces of clothing for an entire month. While initially it may seem impossible to minimize your life, we should question why we are so attached to the things we own.

Imagine living 50 years ago, when we did not have access to items we now feel we can’t live without. Coincidentally, this was a time before humans were emitting over 2.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere every second. These emissions are largely attributed to transporting all of the items that we think we need. There are approximately 2 million tractor-trailers driving through the U.S., made to transport goods across our country. Think about how much damage we are causing to our planet by simply supplying ourselves with things we do not need.

Furthermore, once these items are acquired, they aren’t treated respectfully. An Esure Home Insurance study which surveyed 3,000 adults found that we spend approximately 10 minutes a day searching for misplaced items, which adds up to 153 days of searching. The study also claimed that people lose up to nine items every day, adding up to 198,743 lost items in a lifetime.

In 2001, The Wall Street Journal found that Americans spend approximately 1.2 trillion dollars annually on nonessential goods like candy, alcohol and jewelry among other things.

When we get the things that we believe will fulfill us, we often have no clue what to do with it. A survey by Decluttr and the National Association for Professional Organizers found that 54 percent of Americans are overwhelmed by the amount of clutter they have, and 78 percent have no idea what to do with this clutter.

We are living in a pivotal time in history. We know that we cannot continue living at this rate of consumption, as the Earth cannot sustain it. Now we are left with the choice of turning around and taking a few steps back, or continuing on our path and watching our planet burn.

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