"Our whole retail model over the last 50 years has focused on keeping the industrial machine churning out items," said Ruben, who until 2007 had an up-close view as the head of sustainability at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the king of mass-produced goods. "But if my friend already has shinguards that he's not using, I don't need to buy them for myself."
...Instead of trying to shrink a product's environmental footprint from the production side by making it with less material, advocates — especially clothing and shoe companies — are trying to extend its usefulness on the consumer end.
Retailers such as Hello Rewind are selling goods and products reworked from discarded scraps. Textile makers are experimenting with longer-lasting fabrics. Some businesses are asking shoppers to scale back their buying.
"It fits perfectly with the new movement toward sustainability in the fashion industry," said British designer Orsola de Castro, whose From Somewhere brand is considered an eco-apparel pioneer. "Hyper production and the sheer availability of cheap clothing has made us forget the value of maintaining and repurposing clothes and textiles."
Companies like Yerdle advocate for collective consumerism or a sharing economy, as reported in the Los Angeles Times. Yerdle allows people to offer goods they no longer use to friends, while other companies are focusing on extending the useful lifetime of goods or make them from scrap materials.
BountifulChurchyards.org is kicking off an effort to utilize church property to produce food for those without enough.
"The primary Mission of BountifulChurchyards.org, currently in the incorporation and pre-launch phase (formal launch date 01/15/2014), will be to increase access for those facing food insecurity to lands not otherwise available to them, such as churchyards and similar spaces, to raise or glean their own food. A secondary Mission of BountifulChurchYards.org will be to provide employment opportunities for at-risk youth, immigrants, seniors or under-resourced populations."
Pope Francis forcefully denounced an idolatrous culture based on money, highlighting consumption, a "culture of disposal," the rich-poor gap, and lack of financial ethics. The Catholic News Service reports:
Pope Francis called for global financial reform that respects human dignity, helps the poor, promotes the common good and allows states to regulate markets.
The Greater Good Science Center reports on psychology studies concluding that those who exercise abstinence are happier than those who binge, backing up the wisdom of Lenten practices and Sabbath limits.
"All of this research points to a paradox of happiness: It’s not tied to abundance but to recognizing and appreciating what we do have. Once we meet our basic needs, our lives become more satisfying if we can savor and be grateful for the good that’s already around us, before we strive for more."
Relentless consumption and desire for more makes for unhappy people, while moderation and occasional limits have the opposite effect.
Indeed, so much of our everyday behavior is driven by the misconception that more is better. We celebrate our most important holidays by cooking twice as much food as we need, then scarfing it down. We work hard to get a promotion—then after getting it, start thinking about how to get the next one. We stay up all night tearing through “House of Cards” or the latest season of “Mad Men.”
Grist.com has published an interview with Elizabeth Kline, author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. Kline outlines how the clothing industry and shopping has fundamentally changed, with far-ranging effects we don't realize.
"Last week, the research and advocacy organization Demos held a policy conference in Washington on 21st century poverty issues.... The inspiration for the gathering was the 50th anniversary of Michael Harrington’s seminal exposé The Other America. Even before the recession, millions of Americans were living in poverty. Now, with many more out of work, economic inequality on the rise and proposed cuts to the social safety net, the issue is more relevant than ever."
The infographic highlights some findings presented at the conference.