CONSUMERISM AND FAMILY VALUES

On the last Sunday February 23rd as part of the program of the “18th Annual Tulane Summit on Environmental Law & Policy”, I had the opportunity to attend a keynote were the guest speaker was Mr. Yvon Chouinard, founder of the successful clothing and gear company, Patagonia. During his very interesting address, Mr. Chouinard challenged the audience to change the world by changing themselves, stressing on the importance of avoiding the consumption of those things that we do not need, and working in the roots of the problems as opposed that spending time, and energy in working on the symptoms, which is to say that always is better to apply prevention, instead of having to solve damages.

This kind of address would not be half as compelling as it is, if it was not done by a person like Mr. Choinard, which main source of income (being in the retail business) rest on the consumption habits of the society. As a matter of fact, since the very moment that I listen to this successful business man talking in that way, I have been thinking on what I should do in order to give society something really valuable, and my answer is that with very little things and efforts we also can make a big difference.

A good example of this is a personal situation that I will portrait in the next lines. Since July of 2012 I do not have cable television service at home. At that time the family moved from North Carolina to Louisiana, and since my provider could not give me the service due to technical restrictions, I decided to wait until they could solve the issue in a new location. With the time, my original cable television provider has not been able to install the service; and even though, I have made every single effort to get cable television from the same provider, it has not been possible.

As a consequence of Mr. Choinard address, I started thinking if I really needed to have cable television. As a matter of practical thinking, I have been without it for almost a year; I already have internet to communicate with the outside world, and receive the news; but more important, since the time in which we lost the cable television service, the family started a routine that we call “Friday Family Movie Night,” day in which we pick a movie (rented of bough in the $5 dollars pile of Walmart) for the whole family; have some eating treats (sometimes prepared by ourselves), and seat together in front of the television to share time, comment and watch a family oriented movie.

As a result of the referred situation, sure I am not following on the Dominican Republic’s news since six in the morning every day; this year I could not watch the Grammys, or the Oscars, and who knows how many more things; but in exchange, we got the kids to watch many documentary about subjects that they love; me and my wife gain more hours of work, trying to find afternoon shores for the kids; we have become more involved with our children, and consequently, they have improved their world’s issues awareness, as well as their reading skills. Hmm, maybe having cable television was not as much as a necessity, as we though every time that we called the provider, pleading them to install the service, because I had two children that were needing some distraction.

After I attended Mr. Chouinard address to Tulane’s environmental students, we decided not to push the cable television issue any longer, and instead keeping on having our busy parental afternoons; our family reading habits; our husband and wife conversations after tucking in the kids at night; as well as our “Family Friday Movie Nights,” wishing that the tradition will pass on to our grandchildren. After all if something important we can give to society, it must be the compromise in the shoulders of the new generations of this battled world, and I believe that we already started to do it, by working on the root of the problem. The only proper thing to say is: Thank you Mr. Chouinard, and God bless you wherever you go! If I ever need a new jacket, I will make sure to buy it from Patagonia.

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