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10 steps to a sustainable life: Step 1 (Limit consumption and stop polluting your mind)

offensiveadsDon’t let advertising win. Make a rule to never impulse buy – if you remember it five days later, you can buy it. This rule alone should cut your consumer spending by 60% or more. When I go window shopping, in person or on the internet, and “pass up” cute things, I find myself barely remembering what it was by the time I leave the store, never mind three days later. It also gives you time to reflect how this new item would fit into your life – whether it is clothes or a new gadget. Do you really need it? I’m a girl and I like clothes (fashion is like wearable art to me) but I’ve realized I tend to buy the same things over and over, because that is what I like. How many navy blue, off-the-shoulder knitted sweaters do I really need? Recognize that the advertising industry is an industry designed to make you feel inferior and bad about yourself. It’s a billion dollar industry and they are very, very good at their jobs.

And making you buy things is just the beginning. The advertisement industry goes much, much deeper than that. It defines our society and culture; it tells us who we are. Most of us don’t like what we are being told, but we accept it anyway. If you want to understand more on this watch this lecture by Jean Kilbourne. It is very eyeopening and absolutely worth 43 minutes of your time.

Killing Us Softly 4: by Jean Kilbourne

DGoffensiveGang rape is just so glamorous these days

So the next time you get pulled in by an ad, stop and analyze exactly what it is about it that makes its message powerful to you. Then silently congratulate its creator and move on with your life. You didn’t want the item before you saw the ad, and you don’t need it now.

BKoffensiveAt the moment I am reading No Logo by Naomi Klein. It’s a book describing how corporate branding and advertisement have taken over every aspect of our lives; from the (poorly paid) jobs available, to what we consume and the global impact on the economy, plus an in-depth look at the life of the workers in third world countries that produce all the things that fill our lives. It’s by no means the only book on this topic, but it scares me that it was written almost 15 years ago, and yet the information still makes me gasp in surprise and disgust at the backward logic that run this world.


  1. Pingback: The embarrassing path to good coffee (goodbye Starbucks) | honeythatsok: Stories we tell ourselves

  2. Great points, Joey! My wife and I have a rule that if we buy something then we have to get rid of something that we already have. We don’t have a lot of stuff, but we like what we do have. Having to choose what to throw or give away is usually enough to get us to rethink buying something new.

    • Hi Nathan! That’s a great idea! I started selling my old clothes on eBay a couple of years ago and I’ve made close to $3000 so far. The kicker? I can’t actually remember a single thing I sold, which goes to show how much stuff I had. And I don’t even have that much clothes compared to many girls! Now I make sure I really love/need something before buying it.

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