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To Consume or to Conserve

Egg basketEgg basket

by Paxton Johnson

We are in the Wal-Mart era of history: buy cheaply, dispose eagerly, repeat. We are the quintessential consumer – we consume. Literally, we devour, we eat up, we waste. In fact, the average American throws away 600 times his/her adult body weight. That means each of us leave behind over 100,000 pounds of garbage. That’s a scary number, and a disgusting legacy.

Many of us are torn by conflicting desires. We want to save the planet and her resources, but feel overwhelmed by people telling us we need to do 927 things daily to conserve.

Now there’s a good word – conserve. To use carefully, avoiding waste; to protect from loss or harm. Pretty much the polar opposite of consume - which might explain why we are trained to think of ourselves as consumers, not conservers. Better for the economy – at least better for those who are doing the selling!

But what’s best for us? Yes, we have a tendency to accumulate stuff – maybe more than we need. But how do we determine need from want? And really – don’t we deserve the things we want? Where does it end?

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