The Anti-Consumers The Anti-Consumers
Issue 014

The Anti-Consumers

by Kathryn O'Shea-Evans

January 19, 2009

Five Groups That Aren't Buying It

The AmishEstimated Membership: 232,000Homeland: U.S. & CanadaThe Amish have been partying the same way since 1693, and though less-strict communities allow for some use of technology (solar energy, hydropower) their commitment to simplicity is impressive: most travel by horse-drawn buggy, sew their own clothes on foot-powered machines, and cook on wood-fired stoves. This level of immaterialism is not for the hasty. As one Amish farmer told the Institute for Environmental Studies: "We often joke that where tractors can plough a six-acre field in two hours, I figure two days-but my time includes listening to vesper sparrows and meadowlarks and watching clouds scud across the sky."No Impact ManEstimated Membership: 3 known, countless inspiredHomeland: New York CityOf the multitude of bloggers bent on sitting at a computer to champion their sustainable lifestyle, No Impact Man (44-year-old writer Colin Beavan) is arguably the most serious: he has given up producing any sort of trash, using carbon-fueled methods of transport, shopping for anything but food grown within a 250-mile radius of his apartment, and-here's the best part-toilet paper. His wife and daughter are along for the ride, which is documented on his blog and a forthcoming book and documentary, due out year.The Church of Stop ShoppingEstimated Membership: 20,000Homeland: WorldwideWhen performance artist Bill Talen (aka "Reverend Billy") started preaching to the bag-laden shoppers in New York City's Union Square in the late 1990s, little did he know he'd launch a new religion. There are now members of the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir in every continent but Antarctica. Their credo: The Shopocalypse is nigh, and they'll do anything to stop it, from marching (and singing anti-corporate songs) down Disneyland's Main Street to releasing a Morgan Spurlock-produced documentary-What Would Jesus Buy?-just in time for the holidays last year.More on The Church of Stop Shopping from GOOD: "Shop Till You Drop?"The CompactEstimated Membership: 9,802Homeland: WorldwideHere's the challenge: buy nothing new for one year-no clothes, no toys for your kids, no half-off DVDs. You can buy food, health and safety items, and underwear (shopping for worn panties would just be gross), but that's it. In an effort to curb consumption, 10 San Franciscan friends did just that, and inspired people all over the globe to do the same. It's not easy, but the community they've forged online and at monthly meetings helps them get what they need. As Compacter John Perry told the SF Chronicle, "We had a little crisis when Matt and Sarah had to replace their shower curtain liner and we said no, but we put the word out and someone found one for them."More on The Compact from GOOD: "The Compact"FreegansEstimated Membership: CountlessHomeland: WorldwideA burgeoning group of educated, often middle-class people who root through trash to cull usable waste. Obviously, not everyone who dumpster dives is a Freegan-most just do it to survive-but Freegans will tell you that their process is less about acquiring things than it is a total boycott of an economic system that's put profit above everything and everyone else. See for foraging tips and a city-by-city dumpster directory.
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The Anti-Consumers