time reversal

the stories of four physicists separated by the whims of fate

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Consuming our way to a better world

February 22nd, 2009 by ruth

It’s nice to feel like you are making the world a better place. Especially if it doesn’t involve much extra work. For example, riding your bike to work or preferentially buying local produce. Supporting businesses who give a portion of their money to charity or encourage sustainable farming practices. Bringing reusable containers and bags to the grocery store. Wearing sweatshop-free clothes.

But lately, I’ve begun to notice how many of the things I buy make truly outrageous claims as to the benefits of purchasing their products. For example, my toothpaste “delivers on a belief in the inherent worth of people”. That’s heavy stuff!

You can make anything out of Hemp.

Much like voting gives so many people a feeling of self-satisfaction that allows them to ignore the political process the rest of the year, I wonder if those who buy ego-boosting grocery and lifestyle products feel like they’ve already done enough for the world. Are people who are just a little bit socially conscious generally content to grab the low-hanging (organic non-gmo) fruit? Does it keep us from reaching higher? Or is it a good thing, to raise awareness of important issues? I suspect it’s a net zero for everybody except Whole Foods.

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