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.