Be a Conserver, Not a Consumer

Are you buying it? Becoming a conserver requires a change in consciousness more than a change in shopping habits.


| July/August 2009



During the last 50 years in the United States—and in much of the world—transnational corporations have treated humans as consumers rather than individuals. The growth of the global free-market system demands a consumer culture that amounts to a never-ending shopping experience. Today, nearly 70 percent of our gross domestic product is based on consumer spending. Though some of that spending is responsible, most of it is not.

The tide is turning. As our economy has weakened and we’ve become more aware of our gargantuan impact on the planet, many of us are considering how we live, work and play. We want to be conservers, not consumers. Instead of burning through resources and reducing possibilities for future generations, “ecopreneurs”—business owners who focus on environmental and community goals in addition to financial ones—and the “conserver customers” who support them are working to create a restoration economy.

Becoming a conserver requires a change in consciousness more than a change in shopping habits. It means consuming less and reusing whatever we can, and meeting needs but not every desire. Conservers mindfully approach purchases, consider how products affect the planet and its citizens, and recognize that we live in a world with finite resources and a growing human population. We could make our use of natural capital regenerative and restorative by using and reusing only natural materials that can be returned to the earth as nutrients after use—we work together to foster the circular process. Organic farms thrive based on this practice. Healthy ecological systems produce no waste; the same is true of a restoration economy.

To create a new and prosperous restoration economy, to accomplish the revitalization work necessary to restore the planet to ecological health, and to provide greater social equity both nationally and globally, we need a new approach to economics—one that considers the laws of nature, not just the laws of supply and demand. Adopting a conserver philosophy and lifestyle can help us regain control over how we live.

Stop spending mindlessly. Invest in quality and durability.

Money is a tool of exchange. Used wisely, it can help enterprises whose missions include making the world a better place and serving the community. Before buying anything, consider the values of the company you’re investing in. Choose high-quality products that are durable, recycled and recyclable, nontoxic, and sustainably and fairly made. By buying less, we can often afford to buy durable items of higher quality that were made conscientiously.





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