Our parents and grandparents certainly lived simpler lives with a lot less “stuff.” They worked harder, for sure. They were thrifty. They did not throw out something if it could be repaired. They turned out the lights when they left the room. Many knew how to grow some of their own food and preserve it. At Christmastime, they were happy with a simple pair of new pajamas, or some new socks and a new pair of shoes, or a winter coat, or a homemade toy left by Santa. They did not practice conspicuous consumption. Yes, those were simpler times. People did not have as much and apparently did not need as much. But perhaps that is the point. Despite living in those not-really-so-long-ago times, people still found joy and happiness in family and in community, in their accomplishments and in creativity, in nature and in taking time to enjoy it, in sharing with friends and with strangers when the situation called for it. Those seem like values worth living.
So, here are our questions following Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Isn’t consuming less “stuff” in order to conserve the earth’s limited resources also a value worth living? Isn’t sustainability a value worth practicing? As for learning how to be happy while consuming less stuff? Well that’s more of a personal challenge than anything else. Will we be up to it?