Returning to the Coca Cola example, I said that advertisers try to con you into thinking that you'll get the benefits you want only by buying their brand. You may be thinking, Oh, I’m not that gullible. I don’t have to buy a Coke. I can buy a root beer, a can of lemon tea, a can of coffee, an athletic drink, or any one of hundreds of other drinks.
If an Emberá, a Trobriand Islander, or any one of a billion or so other rainforest natives and other tropical peoples has a chance to read this, he'll probably laugh at the heavy clothing the man in the photo at right is wearing, as if he were afraid of freezing to death. (Wouldn't a loincloth be cooler?) By the standards of many rainforest natives, the woman's manner of dress must be puzzling. It's considered indecent for a woman to expose her thighs; and she's too warmly dressed from the waist up. (Wouldn't a loose-fitting skirt be cooler? If she has to wear a top, why not a loose-fitting tee shirt?) A billion or so people have no need of this article except as confirmation of how wasteful billions of other people really are, even as we pat themselves on the back for recycling things we never needed in the first place.
It's a dreadful mistake to assume that buying most of our products from corporations makes us more advanced than people who don't have to do so. In the composite photo below, the Emberás have better swimming facilities than the multimillionaire Al Gore. If our own rivers are too polluted for swimming, it's largely because of our purchasing habits. The Himbas' homes, made of clay and sticks, are naturally cooled, and at no expense. The palace in the photo employs fewer natural advantages and is shockingly wasteful in all other respects The Emberá and Trobriand villages are cooled at no cost via cross ventilation.
In case you're wondering about the photos below, the structure in the middle of the Trobriand village is for the environmentally friendly storage of yams, a staple crop. (How do you store your yams?) The Emberás use juice from a local berry to decorate their bodies and to ward off insects. The Himbas use clay as both decoration and sunscreen.
When it’s feasible, why not use a refillable mechanical pencil instead of a ballpoint pen? As a memory aid, a cell phone camera that you already have may also be a better option.
Back to Part 1: How to Raise Our Living Standards by Lowering the GDP
Back to Part 2: The Emperor's New Logo
Back to Part 3: Waste Products are Wasted Products