I don’t need all that stuff to have fun

Green Lizard blogged earlier this week about the waste associated with running events, saying:

Why does something aimed at personal health lead to so much that affects the health of the planet?

I cannot emphasise enough how much this statement resonates with me! There are so many hobbies with the potential for creating a better world through improved health, happiness, self-sufficiency, or environmental footprint. Swing dancing, running, playing ukulele, hiking, knitting and gardening all come to mind.

The trouble is, with every pursuit comes an associated cult[ure] of consumerism: “Buy these eight hundred and seventy-three items and they will make you a better dancer/runner/player/hiker/knitter/gardener!”

More insidious is the undertone that you are not an authentic participant unless you purchase all the associated paraphernalia. This is fuelled in part by the simple desire to fit in and look the part. Each subculture has their uniform and tools of the trade — lycra for the cyclists, vintage attire and suede-soled shoes for the swing dancers, or moisture-wicking clothing for the runners. Of course, most activities do require some minimum amount of gear, and the selective acquisition of extra equipment can enhance the experience. However, I wish we could redirect the conversation away from all-the-things-you-need-to-buy-right-now and back towards the simple joy of doing something that makes your heart sing.

All I really need to cycle is a bike.

All I really need to dance is a partner and a smooth floor.

All I really need to make music is my voice.

9 thoughts on “I don’t need all that stuff to have fun

  1. Very true! I made excuses for not running because I did not have the right gear. Then I thought about it- how did runners run before Nike started making running shoes? And I put on my $15 running-like shoes I bought from Payless and my leggings and an old t-shirt and got started. Since then I have bought proper running shoes, but I still wear old t-shirts and shorts – nothing special. No special tracker – I use the free RunKeeper app – and I drink out of an old apple juice jug. Keeping it simple.

  2. So true. It really gets at the heart of this culture’s insistence that we are what we buy. I do volunteer work at the local creek (garbage pickup, invasive removal etc) and every year the organizers give away t-shirts as a reward. On the back of the t-shirt is a list of the sponsors who make the t-shirt possible. Many of the companies are the ones that do the most polluting in the community! It is almost funny.

    • Oh how ironic! Now I think about it, I actually have a t-shirt like that too. It’s branded with the logo of a famous beverage company and was given as thanks for cleaning up said company’s single-use water bottles that were discarded after a fun run event. I suspect the company thought they were being responsible corporate citizens by making sure the bottles were collected.

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