This month at Postconsumers, we’re really helping you to distance yourself from the consumer machine by giving you a hundred things that you can do instead of watch television. And since we are, after all, a site fighting back against consumerism (in a mainstream sort of way), we thought that today’s list should focus on activities that you can do that will help to minimize and combat the consumer machine. So much of the reason that we want you up and away from the television is because you’ll reduce your exposure to consumer media messaging that influences your attitudes on “stuff” and buying more of it. Here are great ways to spend your time that help you to combat that instinct.
81. Make Your Hundred Item List.
When you first start your gradual separation from the consumer media machine, the idea that you don’t need all of the “stuff” that you think you need can be overwhelming. In fact, you may just think that there’s no validity to it at all! If that’s how you feel, then we think a great first step and television-free activity is to sit down and make your list of the one hundred items you would need to live on. No more than one hundred! You may quickly realize that you really don’t even need a hundred. Once you realize that you need far fewer things than you thought you did, the line between need and want will become more clear. Then you’ll start to see how many of your possessions are yours simply because you wanted them. And want isn’t a bad thing. But want dictated by media and societal messaging can be.
82. De-Clutter Your Space.
The more stuff you surround yourself with, the more you’ll crave. It sounds counter-intuitive because one would think that, eventually, you would simply have collected enough “stuff.” But that’s not the consumer mindset at all! More is never enough to the typical consumer, and that’s the societal training that we’re hoping to break. A great first step is to clean, de-clutter and complete a “stuff purge” in your personal space or home. If you’re like most people, this process will keep you away from the television for days (if not months!).
83. Get Rid of All the Marketing Materials Being Delivered to You.
Every day, the average American gets bombarded with consumer media messages that in the best cases can be easily shut down and eliminated and in the worst cases are actually things that we asked for! Start by making sure that you’re on do-not-call registries so that you won’t get cold call solicits. Then do what you can to stop receiving junk mail at your house. Next, unsubscribe from all of the marketing emails that you receive. Yes, that includes daily deal emails which are some of the worst enablers of addictive consumerism out there. Then set up Ad Block on your computer to reduce the number of advertisements that you see there. If you stop and think about it, when you add up all of the channels that we just listed, you’re otherwise seeing dozens of media messages every day, delivered right to you.
84. Plan a Comprehensive Media Diet.
We’re focusing in these articles on getting out from in front of the television in order to reduce your exposure to the consumer media machine, but the television isn’t the only media outlet where you’re bombarded with consumer messaging. We’ve got twenty tips to help you go on a media diet, but things you’ll certainly want to focus on include: reducing the amount of time that you spend on social media, limiting your use of and exposure to your smart phone and finding times that can be pure, quiet time where you may previously be using media outlets for “background noise.”
85. Create Your Definitions of “Less” and “Enough”.
We always think that personal exercises trump television time, and an important personal exercise that you’ll want to go through while you’re learning to combat the consumer media machine is finding your own personal definitions of “less,” “enough” and “satisfaction.” Being a stark minimalist isn’t the right choice for most people. Each individual has a spot on the consumer scale where their personal beliefs and their happiness are at their optimal levels. What we know for certain is that those things never happen when you’re allowing your self-worth to be dictated by consumer media. So get out the trusty pen and paper and start figuring out what your personal definitions for those terms are.
86. Educate Yourself About Consumer Addiction and the Consumer Machine.
What the average person doesn’t understand about consumer addiction and the consumer machine could fill the ocean – and that’s to the credit of the establishments who control the consumer machine for keeping their dirty little secrets hidden. Once you start down the rabbit hole of learning about topics and tactics, you’ll without a doubt be angry at the way that you’ve been manipulated into thinking that you can find happiness through more and more “stuff.” Of course, we’ve got a lot of great articles on Postconsumers.com to help you on your way. Start here, we think!
87. Make Shopping Lists.
How can making a list of things that you need to buy help you to stop buying things? The answer is actually quite simple! The list is a list of things that you need. Once you narrow it down to things that you need, you can avoid making the impulse or emotional mistake of buying things that you want. The hard part, of course, is having the will power to stick only to your weekly or monthly shopping list. But we are all works in progress and you can improve your will power over time by deciding how much is enough for you today.
88. Make a Budget.
Much like making a shopping list can help you to avoid buying things that you don’t need, making a budget can help you to avoid buying things that you can’t afford. One of the greatest points of sadness about the impact of addictive consumerism is that it’s also deteriorated the financial stability of American society. In addition to having less money to do things that will truly give them satisfaction, Americans now save less and have much more debt. While consumer credit card debt isn’t the only factor in this mix, it’s a significant one. Create weekly, monthly and annual budgets. Your brain will be engaged with math, which is better than being turned to mush by the television. And, of course, your finances will be strengthened and the impact of consumerism on you will be lessened.
89. Enjoy the Thrills of Upcycling.
One of the things that the consumer machine attempts to make you believe is that items you buy are “one and done.” Of course, part of the reason you believe that is because the consumer engine makes cheap items that they can sell you for cheap prices that then require you to buy even more once they fall apart. But even items that fall apart quickly can have a life after use. Get crafty and start upcycling products into second lives and uses. You’ll end up with creative items that you made while not being exposed to the television.
90. Research Big Box Store Alternatives.
Big box stores are convenient and typically very affordable. They’re also one of the major gears of the consumer machine. Instead of sitting in front of the television, spend some time researching both local physical alternatives to big box stores and online alternatives like etsy sellers to big box stores. The more independent merchants you support, the more you’re combating the consumer engine.
Those are our seventh set of ideas for staying away from the television. Need or want more? Continue on to our final list!
Did we miss a way to avoid the television that you’d like to share? Tell us about it on the social media channels below.
Photo Credit: Luke Redmond via Flickr