This week my mind has been swirling with thoughts of consumption (no, not TB; please don’t call me “Satine”).
Faced with the super-fun task of crafting a budget to pay down my credit card, I have been seeking ways to reduce my spending without sacrificing the quality of everything I put into and onto my body.
As most of you know—despite my unbreakable sweet tooth—I tend to be rather strict about what I eat and the types of products (personal hygiene, cosmetic, household cleaning, etc.) I use. I try to limit my exposure to harmful chemicals however I can. (Useful resource: the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database)
I am also devoted to raising awareness about climate change (if you are rolling your eyes here, please skip the rest of my blog post and instead check out these informative, accessible webpages from NASA—or, finish reading and then check out the site).
On Wednesday, I tried to watch U.S. President Donald Trump’s first United Nations speech—I had only caught soundbites of it live. About halfway through, I paused, then closed the window on my laptop and decided to find something more productive to do with the remaining time I’d given myself to watch the speech.
Retrospectively, that shift was also reflecting a broader awareness of consumption that I have been gaining this week. The title of this post is “We are what we consume,” inspired by the timeless saying “we are what we eat.” However, in my journey to improve and refine my consumption habits, I am aiming to be mindful of more than just the food I eat and the products I buy; I am also striving to be incredibly mindful of what I am reading and watching daily.
After shutting down the president’s disconcerting speech (I’d already gotten the gist of it from my managing editor’s story; I already knew all I needed to, both as a citizen and a journalist, so watching it after the fact was just torturous), I opted for a few other videos:
This isn’t the first of Lauren Singer’s videos I watched, but it’s the one I recommend as a starter. On her blog, Trash is for Tossers, Lauren shares her experiences living a “zero waste” lifestyle. All her trash from the past four years is in that mason jar she’s holding.
From Lauren, I learned about Bea Johnson, whom the New York Times has crowned the “Priestess of Waste-Free Living.” But instead of just reading a Times story, I also explored Bea’s website, Zero Waste Home, and watched her TED Talk:
I don’t think I will convert my lifestyle to fully mirror those of Lauren and Bea—at least, not yet. But from them, I am learning about how I can save money and produce less waste—which serves not only my bank account but also the planet. I hope to share some of that journey her as well as on my recently-switched-to-public Instagram account: @jess_corbett.
My first move was to buy food from the bulk section when I stopped at Whole Foods on Wednesday. I opted for their recyclable paper bags because I have not yet invested in the reusable ones, but I felt a sense of excitement when I came home and transferred my organic, unsalted almonds and dried mango slices into my glass containers. Baby steps.
Since I returned home from work last night, I have watched two additional documentaries. While they are not about zero waste living, they do align with my goals of mindfully consuming content, and giving more thought to what I do and do not need.
The first has been on my “to watch” list for ages, and I am so grateful I finally sat down to enjoy it. I watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix, as I put DVDs into a giant case and ripped apart their individual cases to recycle the paper parts.
The film stars two men who have made it their mission to launch a minimalist movement in America, and while they don’t overtly state that their goal is to acquire less so they produce less waste, their key points resonated with me. Among them, we are happier when we just invest in high-quality things we actually need, and “Love people and use things, because the opposite never works.”
This afternoon, as I shredded old bank statements, I watched Netflix’s original documentary called Chasing Coral. Although it is heart-wrenching to see how climate change is impacting coral reefs around the globe, I was riveted. I encourage you to watch it until the end; you’ll be rewarded with an original song from Kristen Bell plus videos of baby sea turtles—and who doesn’t love baby sea turtles?
The film also was not about living a zero waste lifestyle, but it motivated me to be more mindful of my consumption habits. Although we need to globally overhaul our energy systems to effectively combat climate change, seeing how the warming oceans are killing off massive swaths of beautiful coral reefs brought tears to my eyes. I also felt confident that watching the film fit with my goal of more mindfully consuming media content.
So far, this post has just been a list of suggestions for where you should seek information elsewhere; that’s because while I have tried for the past few years to prioritize mindfulness, this consumption component is still very new for me, and I don’t have too much to say about it just yet. I merely want to share these resources and invite you to send me any related/relevant suggestions.
Thanks for reading, and if you’re not bored of me yet, below I’m including a roundup of my recent articles for Common Dreams.
My recent articles—related and not to my comments above (read all my CD articles here)
#StopBetsy trends after our lovely Education Secretary takes a “horrific step back” on Title IX (aka the federal law barring sexual discrimination in schools)
Even all 50 state directors of Medicaid agree that Graham-Cassidy is terrible
EPA forces staff to attend anti-leak classes as Trump wages war on the planet
Two California cities sue Big Oil companies for their contributions to climate change
Surprise! Bill written by two male Republicans sucks for millions of women
Gun stocks surge as Trump pushes to ease export regulations for assault weapons
New poll reveals nearly half of Americans and 2/3rds of Democrats want a single-payer healthcare system implemented in the United States
New research released during UNGA reveals there are more than 40 million modern slaves worldwide—and many of them women and children
Progressive groups and lawmakers mobilize in response to Republicans’ last-ditch attempt to cut off millions of Americans from healthcare
Conservationists are outrage after Zinke memo reveals the federal government’s unprecedented assault on public lands
Bolstering the case for a single-payer system, a new report shows how for-profit insurers are fueling America’s opioid crisis
“Spitting in the eye of transparency,” the federal government reveals just 22 Mar-a-Lago visitors after promising to release full logs
The EU’s food safety watchdog is under fire for copying and pasting analysis from Monsanto into a Roundup safety report
As the United States reels from several natural disasters, 300+ groups endorse a sweeping climate bill
New research shows 10 percent of global GDP is hidden in tax havens while the world’s poorest people suffer
As Democrats and Trump bicker, Dreamers send a clear message: ‘No deal without us!’
In districts where Trump dominated, these Democrats delivered a stunning blow to the GOP in special elections
Trump gets shit for exploiting storm victims by pushing tax cuts for the wealthy amid disaster recovery
In a “groundbreaking” development, more than a dozen Democratic co-sponsors rush aboard Bernie’s Medicare for All train
After Hurricane Harvey, Texas is left with a toxic soup of shit, spilled fuel, pesticides, and more
16 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Muslims are still central targets in war with no end
If humanity doesn’t turn back from climate abyss, says Pope, “we will go down”
Mueller warns the White House that he plans to interview six Trump aides
Inspired by Standing Rock, First Nations ‘Tiny House Warriors’ protest pipeline project
Citing climate change hoax, Rush Limbaugh downplayed Hurricane Irma, then evacuated
As Scotland vows 100% transition to electric cars, the U.S. caves to the auto industry’s dirty demands
As the planet rages with fires and storms, experts are fed us with murderous climate denialism
Study finds 83% of tap water around the globe tested positive for tiny plastic fibers
Abortion rights are under attack as Kentucky moves to close the state’s last open clinic
“This is about basic decency,” says Obama, denouncing Trump as the DACA decision sparks nationwide protest
“This is evil,” say immigrant rights advocates, blasting Trump’s decision to end DACA
More than 120,000 of “world’s most persecuted people” are fleeing violence in Myanmar
Trump’s ending of DACA will spark protests, lawsuits, and congressional battles
“No more road left” for diplomacy regarding North Korea, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley tells the United Nations Security Council
Analysis reveals Hurricane Harvey triggered the release of nearly a million pounds of toxic air pollutants
An “Impeach Donald Trump Now” Billboard goes up a mile from Mar-a-Lago
Trump warned: “If you end DACA, we will make your life impossible”
The sinister side effect of an amazing new cancer drug: one dose costs nearly $500K
Relief for immigrants as court blocks a “patently unconstitutional” law in Texas
As workers ditch Trump, AFL-CIO president says the White House is full of “racists” and “Wall Streeters”
UN Human Rights chief questions if Trump is fomenting violence against journalists
With a midnight deadline, activists begin a final push to thwart Trump’s attack on net neutrality
“Unprecedented” rainfall and “catastrophic” flooding devastate the Gulf Coast
A Charlottesville coalition will march 10 days to D.C. to confront white supremacy
Thousands of San Franciscans celebrate after a far-right group cancels their rally
Trump’s “pioneering” hurricane news dump fails to prevent controversy
“Law is dead in America”: presidential pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio is widely condemned
Outside Trump’s White House, Dreamers vow to “fight like hell” to #DefendDACA
Defunding clinics, GOP governor “throws women under the bus” in South Carolina
Rightwing protesters to be welcomed in San Francisco… with piles of dog poop
100% renewable roadmaps for 139 nations reveal comprehensive path to fully sustainable system worldwide
Trump-allied firm slammed for $1 billion lawsuit against Standing Rock water protectors
Harvard study confirms #ExxonKnew and misled public about the climate threat for decades
Trump’s hint at pardon for Sheriff Joe Arpaio denounced as “an official endorsement of racism”
As Trump ramps up the War on Terror, U.S. bombings kill 170+ civilians in a week
Cleveland Browns football players kneel during the national anthem in the largest NFL racial justice protest yet
Treasury secretary’s wife provokes outrage with a classist tirade on Instagram
With Trump, warns Scahill, the “unelected national security apparatus” has been unleashed
Demanding a ban on killer robots, tech experts warn of opening “this pandora’s box”