A torrent of information came my way this week: metal flakes in breakfast cereal, coal tar in food coloring, labor conditions in China that are so bad the factory had to put up nets to help catch all the people that were trying to kill themselves by jumping off the building. How do I explain all of this to someone who just wants a box of Apple Jax?
The worst part is that as my knowledge of such things is constantly growing and changing, what was once acceptable may not be any longer, and visa versa: what I once said “no” to, I then change to a “yes”.
Buying and consuming is so complicated a prospect I don’t even realize why I buy the things that I do a lot of the time. I am fasinated by advertising tactics, sense perception and the magic act that is being perpetrated right before me in the form of a completely incoherent product label when I do take the opportunity to actually read what it is that is actually inside whatever product I happen to be ingesting at that moment.
Learning more creates a higher appreciation and a change in buying habits. Ever since I learned that gelatin is made from cow toenails (really, Mr. Knox got the idea for Knox gelatin after watching his wife boil down hooves to make it at home), I haven’t been able to eat Jello. That doesn’t mean that no one should, I just can’t.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found out from reading The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann that oil comes from vegetation that lived 300 million years ago. Thinking about stuff like that makes me drive a little less. I wonder, do I really need to use up some gas, dip into the earth’s piggy bank, into a stash that has been 300 million years in the making just to run to the store because I have a craving for some potato chips?
Plus, once I get there, the ability to enjoy those chips comes with the heavy burden of all the gas that was used in their production and transportation, energy that has gone into their conception and marketing combining with the added realization that they will probably also contribute to a whole slew of health problems from obesity to heart attack.
Thinking about all of this is staying concious to what materialism is and means. The less I consume, the less I have to think about all of those things. The more I know about everything that I purchase, the easier I’m able to sleep.
So if you too are one of those people who just don’t want to know what’s in the stuff that they buy but can’t look away, check out my new blog Product Professor coming next week. I’ll be profiling whatever products pop up, come my way or that are on my mind. In the meantime, enjoy, you never know what you might not be able to next!