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.