You have probably heard of this a lot of times; we’re buying a lot of things and throwing away them the next second. Despite hearing this I don’t know how many times I can’t remember a solution to this problem except “Don’t buy as much as you do now”. That’s more easily said than done—that’s like telling a swimmer that only know crawl to start using the butterfly technique instead since crawling is ‘bad’. First if the swimmer is an excellent swimmer in crawl, it’s hard to start using another routine, and he’ll probably just to use crawl because he’s not heard a really good reason why he shouldn’t use it. Sure most of us know what will happen when the resources end, or at least have a vague idea, but we haven’t been presented with examples how the world would look like, what prices the items in the store would have, how the world would look like, etc. Maybe the swimmer isn’t a perfect metaphor, but at least it put things into perspective.
Before presenting one alternative solution to this problem I’d just want to give some examples that actually helps us to counter the overconsumption, or rather we continue with the consumption as before, but we do it digitally thus only it really only is a consumption of energy in the real life.
With Steam, PSN, and Xbox Live, you can buy smaller games, or sometimes full games directly through the Internet. Certainly this too has some negative features, like you cannot trade in the game, or sell it to another person, or just loan it to your friend. What’s positive is that you can get the game almost instantaneously. This has also been applied for renting movies for quite a while, but renting movies usually doesn’t use that much resources, if you don’t use the car to get to the store. However games and movies is only a fraction of what we buy…
On PlayStation 3 there’s currently a free service ‘Playstation Home’ (henceforward I’ll only say Home). In Home you create an avatar for yourself and you live in a virtual house, when you go out from the house you come to an area where you can meet all the other peoples logged in to Home. The special about Home is that you can actually buy clothes, furniture, and other items for you avatar and house. Some basic clothes are free, but the more exclusive clothes and furniture costs money. The following statement is only a speculation of mine, and probably don’t fit onto every personality. If in real life you have all the things you want, or at least somewhat that you can afford with, thus you might have a good car, TV, all consoles, good gaming computer, you name it. But maybe not a Ferrari in the garage, you still want to spend your money and buy stuff although you have everything you want. What you’ll probably do is keep the money, and just let them lie in your bank account, or you start saving for real exclusive items (like that Ferrari). However, along with saving you’ll probably buy more cheap items that you actually don’t need, because shopping thing are kinda fun and stress relieving (I think); or If you actually have the all the things but you don’t know what to do with the money, that could also be a source to buy small things you don’t need.
The good thing about Home is that you can then spend your money on virtual items, like clothes for you avatar or furniture/decorations for your house. Thus instead of consuming resources from earth you’re only consuming energy, which is a renewable resource (except if it comes from coal or nuclear power plants).
[b]To the idea:[/b]
Because people have a hard time abandoning old habits, the government could instead force a new better habit onto the people. How could they do that? The government could increase the taxes on ‘bad’ productions, like not ecological, or the facilities that produces a lot of toxins and lets them out in nature by some means. This solution only has one great flaw; if we take Sweden for example, we don’t produces a lot of products, rather we import them. If we would increase the taxes on production that would mean that Sweden products would be more expensive, i.e. probably lessen the exports (which actually can be good, but not for Sweden), but no one in Sweden would buy Swedish products since imported products would be a lot cheaper. Thus this system only works in the borders of the country and not beyond. However there’s another system where you can add taxes to the consumption instead of the production. You could then add different taxes depending if the final product is a health, ecological, ‘dirty’, or a luxury consumption. This would of course mean higher prices for products; to counter this taxes on the income for those who earn the least amount of money could be lessened a bit. I don’t know if this would actually work but at least it’s an idea.