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The Very Best Diet, Part III

August 23rd, 2008 by Alison · 4 Comments · health & well being, lifestyle, simplicity

I’ve written in recent months about how a low-car diet and a low-TV diet can help us with our national obesity problem and also our carbon obesity (a new phrase I just coined).  I practice both these diets. The new diet I’ll add to the mix today is an advertising diet: limiting our exposure to ads.

Looking at advertisements leads to buying more things, most of which we probably don’t need. Food and drink are at the top of the list here. Notice how the most fattening and heavily-processed foods and beverages get advertised the most, while whole grains and fresh produce get advertised the least. Buying unneeded things, whether food or durable goods, leads to greater debt (on the national level at least, if not also on the individual level) — and debt always reduces our freedom. And most everything we buy has a carbon footprint, which footprint it’s imperative we reduce since carbon emissions cause global warming.

Following the low-TV diet gives a person a great start on the low-ad diet. If we refrain from TV we protect ourselves from hundreds of influences toward greater consumption, including overeating, and sources of envy and insecurity. In most cases, we are fine as we are, with what we possess right now. But the job of advertisements is to convince us that the opposite is true.

From there we can decide to focus just on the articles when we read magazines and newspapers, our eyes sliding past the glossy (or grainy) entreaties to buy more stuff, and when we’re out and about we can choose to ignore billboards. I have a policy of not wearing T-shirts (or anything else) carrying advertising, because I feel no need to be a walking billboard.

Reading back over this, I see that people in the advertising and retail industries could complain I seem hostile to them. I would challenge these industries to adjust and transform themselves, just as business interests have been doing for thousands of years, into more sustainable entities as the world is changing around them.

Try staying away from advertising for a week. Our attention is a valuable thing and we should spend it carefully, like money. We don’t owe advertisements our attention. They don’t have our best interests at heart, to state it kindly.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Crafty Green Poet

    Very good post. I’ve become very cynical about advertising, I think I can now look at an individual advert in a purely objective way and work out how its trying to sell its product. I’m pretty sure that i haven’t been persuaded by advertising more than once in the last twenty years. Helped by the fact that i barely watch tv and most cinema ads are for cars and I don’t drive…

  • Krista

    I agree about advertising. My husband and I didn’t purposefully stay away from TV; we just chose to watch certain shows via iTunes or the internet rather than pay for cable–it was simply cheaper. A side benefit was not seeing hundreds of commercials, and only seeing the shows we actively chose to watch.

    We were surprised come Christmas time…all the advertisements we normally consumed during the holiday season we didn’t see. It was interesting how our attitude towards the holidays weren’t about gadgets or things, but people.

    For those people who are worried about going without their “Lost” or “Heroes” shoes, it goes to show that there are still avenues where you can still enjoy some of your favorite quality entertainment without having to consume (or consume as much) mass media advertising.

  • Colleen

    I agree with the previous poster. I’m already acutely aware of how advertising “works” and am thus not persuaded all that easily. Subconsciously? I suppose it makes a dent somewhere, somehow for me. But as a lifelong student of the media, I’m far more interested in figuring out the advertising game than playing along with it.

  • deb

    Another fabulous post! We too are leary of advertising.

    I watched a fascinating short film online about STUFF and marketing . The Eisenhower Administration, in the 50s, determined that the economy would be better if our citizens became `consumers’. Advertising kicked into high gear. The movie explained the major thrust of the plan: Planned obsolescence (goods made to last for shorter periods, forcing a new purchase at a determined point); Perceived obsolescence (e.g. heading in to get that new cellphone every two years, though the one you have still works just fine. Spike heeled shoes this season, chunky heels next season). That movie on STUFF completely changed my world!

    We recently downsized from a 1,700 sq foot house to an old 900 sq foot house. We purged mountains of STUFF, saving only the collectibles/valuables to sell on Ebay. I can’t tell you how much happier we are now that we’ve immunized ourselves to advertising, both print and television. No more STUFF for us!

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