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If 'planet cost' was embedded in consumerism...?

[Image Source: Material Excesses of Christmas are a Moral Problem: Objecting to the Extreme Spending, Borrowing, Materialism
Image © Austin Cline, Original Poster: Library of Congress, USA]

If full environmental costs were embedded into consumer products pricing, then the price of high environmental cost consumer products would rise, making them less affordable and so their consumption would fall. Rampant consumerism is unaffordable to the planet anyway. But what we pay for consumer items is artificially subsidised by leaving out the environmental impact costs. Throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries, developed countries have partied with free lunches, and now we are learning that there is not such thing long term. The planet and its nature is now paying for that free lunch. We need only read the next article below by Bandicoot 12th November, 'Are we witnessing the death of our planet?'

Conspicuous consumption and decadence deserves taxing, because its costs are destructive on the planet and need to be curbed.

I propose a 'planet cost' measure on all products and services globally. This being the full lifecycle cost of a product/service in terms of its environmental cost on the planet - from manufacturing/procurement, inventory, marketing, distribution, to its consumption and waste ('dust to dust' so to speak).

Planet cost needs to be mitigated by imposing behavioural changes on human consumption. Carrots only encouraged those who want to change, so a behavioural stick (aka a 'planet tax') is needed for those conspicuous consumers who don't and who don't give a rats.

In order to determine the tax rate, simply apply a planet impact global test base on severity and scale relative to the other products/services.

So a plastic bottle of phosphate-based laundry detergent used in standard sewerage (so 20th C) would be priced at $30, whereas a reusable glass bottle of phosphate-free detergent used in a grey water reuse system would cost only $15. With such disparate pricing, behavioural change wouldn't take long!

"Some of the money spent on Christmas wrapping paper, decorations, and unwanted gifts might do some good feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and tending the sick." [Austin Cline, Austin Cline's Agnosticism / Atheism Guide].

Do the planet a favour, buy fewer xmas gifts. Catch up with family and friends instead!

Happy holidays!

Further Reading:

War on Xmas

Suggan Buggan
Snowy River Region
Victoria 3885

Image icon Buy-Fewer-Gifts.jpg104.87 KB


Having seen so many computer monitors, old TVs and other plastic electronic devices thrown out by households in my area in the recent council clean-up, I can see the need for Tigerquoll's proposed 'planet tax'.

The prices we pay for the latest wide flat screen monitors to replace our older monitors is nowhere near the the full costs to their planet of their manufacture (as, indeed, even the costs of the older glass cathode-ray tube monitors were not anywhere near to the costs to the planet of their manufacture) as so well demonstrated in Bandicoot's recent article in which she describes how much of our oceans are covered with floating plastic waste. If the prices were adequate to cover the damage to the Earth, there is no way that so many would have chosen to buy the newer LCD monitors. They would have. instead, chosen to use their older monitors, for as long as their durability would have allowed them to, before buying newer monitors. For sure, it would have meant many years more in front of less visually appealing monitor displays for many, but the savings in non-renewable natural resources, for this and future generations, would have easily made the inconvenience well worth it.

It is important that such "earth taxes" be put to good use, and not just redistributed ultimately towards the wealthy and more privileged the way the Government now does with most of its taxes and charges today. If the revenue gained was spent on programs for the benefit of ordinary and poorer people, then it would be possible to use Tigerquoll's proposed 'earth tax' to modify people to behave with more consideration for their natural environment, but without making them poorer (as the Federal Government's now scrapped "carbon tax", which the Greens are trying to resuscitate almost certainly would).

Christmas doesn't have to be a time of pure commercialism and junk! Giving gifts can and should be bought and given ethically. Many charities and ngos have calendars and merchandise, and Christmas cards, to buy that helps their operations and at the same time provide ethically made items to help celebrate the season. It is secularisation that has hijacked this religious, traditional and spiritual festival.

However, some aid organisations are guilty of imposing Western standards when they give gifts that are not appropriate in developing countries. Others encourage the giving of livestock, which ultimately could be imposing our diets and unsustainable eating habits onto people struggling to feed themselves, let alone animals.

Alternative gift ideas and charity cards from national charities, fair trade, international aid and relief agencies will help make this an ethical Christmas.

Go Fair Trading sell online fair trade tea, coffee, chocolate, chocolate drink and sugar. They have a wide selection of fair trade craft produced by talented artisans from areas such as Peru, Aceh, Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Chile, Kashmir and Central Australia.

Christmas has become a season of shopping and advertising frenzy. It should be symbolic and sincere, not betrayed by all the hype and hysteria we see on TV, in brochures and in the shops. They belie the actual message, the significance of the Son of God being born among animals in a stable, and celebrated humbly with the those of the lowest social status - the shepherds!

I thought December the 25th was traditionally the day that the Romans celebrated the renewal of the sun after the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere... pagan style. Maybe we in Australia should really be celebrating this day after our winter solstice in June and take some time to wonder at the natural world - and forget the presents.

Scott suggests that Australians should replace Xmas celebrations on the 25th with a celebration for the natural world at the time of ending winter solstice in June. I agree, and same for the "Easter" rebirth at the beginning of Spring instead of the beginning of winter.

Conspicuous human consumption is one of the key human activities driving planet harm and xmas is a key event of that harmful habit. No more rampant is the conspicuous consumption of xmas each year, especially in western developed countries, and it is these western developed countries that are causing the most planet harm by their high per capita consumption.

But calling for people to reject the habitual ancient tradition of xmas altogether in favour of a return to paganism, is a tad utopian and would only invite stonewalling and risk inciting religious anger.

A more workable approach is to first expose and communicate the planet harm of conspicouos consumption and of the harmful role of xmas, then offer acceptable alternatives in small iterative ways.

Cultural change is easier to start with promoting an 'R&R' focus, which is what many people do at year's end anyway. The first priority is to convince high per capita consumers in western developed countries like Australia and the United States that lots of presents is harmful and that the values of the occasion are not about giving material things but in R&R which involves sharing time with people one values.

This is why I wrote a follow up article on CanDoBetter the following day:

'R&R' focus offers more value and benefit than the dogma of xmas

Perhaps the simple phrases 'happy holidays' is one worth promoting as a replacement to 'merry xmas' with all its religious and consumerism overtones.

Suggan Buggan
Snowy River Region
Victoria 3885

This festive season, pounds and shelters across Australia will be overflowing with dumped animals, the discarded end results of ill-thought out Christmas presents and people going on holidays and don't want to pay for kennels. Puppies and kittens are kept inside glass or metal cages inside pet shops, and some can be obviously suffering from confinement, noise and psychological stresses.

Shoppers are lured into buying pets because they look appealing, and can pay exorbitant prices and find later that the pets have behaviour or health problems, from overbreeding, or are too demanding or too big.
During the day they are surrounded by overwhelmingly bright lights, loud noise and excited children; at night they are left alone in the dark. They are merely shelf products, items for sale, like toys or lollies.

Puppy farms are quite legal and continue to produce their products to a saturated market. Shelters and pounds become overwhelmed by the numbers of dumped "best friends" every year.

This Christmas, please adopt, don't shop, and remember that an animal is a commitment, a companion and a family member, not a disposable product or toy.

Tigerquoll is spot on.

"xmas", is the capitalist class/money changers appropriation of our Aussie traditions for Christmas.

Goodwill, peace on earth, and Aussie co-operative values are preferable to an existence based on "consuming and defecating" as sought for "xmas".