What is money and what is consume?
Most of the people tell me “I don’t even know what I am consuming. I have no time to check the background of everything I am consuming.”
Let’s analyse the meaning of this: I don’t have time to check on my consuming.
We live because we eat, drink and sleep. We live because we are consuming. But we don’t have time for what we use because we have to work harder, better, faster to earn more money with which we consume things we don't care about.
Is this a litte crazy?
We don’t trade Tomatoes against Capsicum anymore. We use money to make any trade easier. Money translates everything in the world. Money became the language in the world everyone is able to speak. Since the rendition of services even the 'talking' of people has a certain value – actually this is even quite a high trademark.
So we spent money on things, which keep us alive, but we have no time to care about them, because we are busy working for a system, to make more money, which puts us in a position to buy more of these goods we don’t care about - unless the price we pay for it.
We care more for the money than for an actual good, although money actually is just a way of translating a value of an actual good.
O.k. that’s a little insane, no?
Money became the system itself, which rules us even though money itself is empty - nothing more than printed paper without the value of actual goods.
At the weekend I was invited at this party in Coolmühle, Brandenburg, Germany. It is a former holiday camp used by the Nazis and the GDR after both of the systems failed the original owner got it back and failed in working together with the staff because of difficulties between the staff from the East and the owner of the western-Germany.
Today a group of forty people from Berlin brought the area and live and work there. They don’t pay rent, they don’t have many rules and most of them don’t have a lot of money.
Actually you could sum up with “people there live with less”.
But it is not true. In their view they have so much more. They have big old trees, vegetables and sheep on their property, a clean lake in front of the house, freedom of creativity, more nature, less people.
But how can these people say they have more when they have less money? Which means 'less choices' to many of us. When you ask people at Coolmühle about money they will tell you their idea about live:
They choose an option and work for this.
Different from many other people who work for a lot of money to have many options.
Maybe money made it too easy for us.
Instead of using our brain to think how much a steak on our plate is worth it – concerning the animal-life we eat (maybe it was the favourite cow of Heidi) - we just trust in the price, which translates how much the life of the cow was worth it.
We don’t want to question ourselves if we would have liked the cow we just ate. That would make the consuming less joyful. More cautions, more aware...
We want an easy life. We decide not-to-know. We want to trust in prices, production and not concern every detail in our lives. That is the entire idea of an system: Everybody just fulfils his own part and trusts the others with 'the rest'. Deciding not-to-know more. Consuming more, worry less.
This scenario was kept for the last 50 years and we translated everything into money. The language we all speak.
Trade as a kind of Interaction
...and how this change our consumption.
Is there anything which could replace the value of money?
Bitcoin. Haha. No for real:
With communication developing online, things start to change. Because of groups like Anonymous and Co. it becomes harder not-to-know. We can be in a million places at the same time. Everybody and everything became transparent, it does not matter if your economy is powerful.
In general it is hard to hide circumstances, value-chains and the way things go nowadays – to sum up: It is hard to hide running systems.
Explanations like “things have always been that way” are simply out of time.
And that is where it starts.
Even though the economic system has such and overlapping and ruling power on this planet, it is still possible to go back to the natural kind of interaction and trade.
People ask and offer online. We all know those kind of Facebook-groups ‘Free-your-Stuff’ or even Ebay 'Small Announcements' – We still trade with goods. Moreover we trade with a gap of valuing a good but still respecting them not trashing them. The Internet widened the perspective of everyone - Take Trade as a form of interaction = we talk so much more globally!
Collective Consumption & Shared Economies
Think about your wardrobe. Probably you will look at it and think: “Well that’s about the normal amount of clothes in there according to what my friends have.”
If you would divide now all of your clothes into what you need, what you want and the rest. Which one is the biggest of your piles of clothes? - Probably the third one. At least this is what happenes to 90% of the northern european women with 40% of the items in their wardrobe.
The Start-Up Darpdecade works in the area of collective consumption and allows via an App to even share clothes. They made an video which makes it ease to understand.
Sharing and movements online inspire us - In any way. Especially in a way that advertising cannot tell us anymore what to do. We see, we believe, we try, we find out.
Authenticity became more important than status.
Life can be so much worth it without any number of money!
I believed a long, long time in the fact that money can be the answer if you spread it wisely.
But actually I figured out that the anti-consume is what makes me the happiest: Buying less, having less, consuming less makes space and leaves time to find out what I actually want and need.
Why so ever, a very expensive meal cannot satisfy me any more as much as the meal I cook from my own harvested vegetables. It's very simple: It’s the emotional factor of things. I know their story.
And it is the same with clothes. I haven’t been shopping in a Fast Fashion Store since over a year now and I do not even miss it. I get sick when I enter these huge stores seeing clothes smashed on the cloth rails, always the same piece in a million times. I can not stop myself anymore from the pictures in my head of the people who sew so hard on thousands of shirts and you stand in the store listening conversations “Oh, this is ugly I am not paying 20€ for this! It’s really not the greatest quality at H&M, but I simply need new stuff.”
Going to flee-markets I feel a stronger happiness. People looking at a piece of clothing in a more individualistic way. It’s old clothes, out of market race. The only reason the pieces are there for sell is because people want to get rid of them. So the way people look at stuff at flee-markets it’s more about the item itself, adding a new value to it. Mostly you don’t even pay what this piece is worth to you. You pay what the people expect for it and add your own value to it: Your story about how you found this piece of item and how you treat it.
Something people who travel know best: A smile and a story pays better than any money. Well yes, you can say: "But I am not always traveling. What happens when I want to stay?" - Then it is your choice to stay in a system taking their rules and moreover it is your choice to follow them.
To come back to my weekend in Coolmühle in Brandenburg, Germany: These people live in a state with a strong economy with the decision to step away from it.