Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Owning your sustainability

An article I read a few months ago on NPR, “Are you sure you own your stuff?”, talked about the idea that Americans don’t actually own anything because everything they own is disposable to them. This so-called “Maker movement”, in which people learn how to repair and improve products they acquire, is battling against the “Throw-away culture”, that sees no issue in deeming possessions as junk after transitory usage. In his second volume of Endgame, Derrick Jensen talks about behavioral patterns in humans caused by trauma to explain why humans have destroyed the planet. He equates the inner conflict suffered by those that are abused to the inner conflict that civilization has always known. Perhaps the ever-present human conflict is the vast void that is created by the realization and evasion of one’s own death. One way that individuals remedy the void is by over-consuming, a practice in which Americans have become extraordinarily adept. What Jensen and many others have pointed out is that consumption is a temporary, external solution to the void. How does the human void relate to true ownership? Having true ownership goes beyond the temporary pleasure felt after buying something new. In realizing one’s potential to be a crafter and creator, a distancing from the thoughtless consumption and disposal patterns of civilization occurs. The human void may not ever be filled and the problem of civilization will never be remedied, as Jensen fervently points out, but individual sustainability can be partly attained with true ownership. Personally, I enjoy that most Americans don’t “stop and think before they toss” because I make good usage (and banana bread) out of discarded goods. But most of what myself and the other “dumpsterteers” miss or can’t use, gets put in landfills, which makes it that much easier for humans to forget their wasteful, detrimental behavior. Thus, I will take further steps in my sustainable journey to become a crafter, a creator, and a repair woman because I may encounter a time when constructing or refurbishing goods to be durable is the only way to survive. Now, I must go figure out how to craft a bucket for my head…

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