A tweet from the perspicacious Jerry Michalski about “that troubling word, consumer” got me digging through my blog archives.

I was looking for a piece (which I didn’t find), that noted at least two problems with that troubling word

  • consumption is a deception, since we know from the laws of thermodynamics (matter is neither created nor destroyed, remember?) that there is only transformation, not consumption (though there is indeed degradation of quality)
  • consumption, back in the 19th century, was the name we gave to tuberculosis, a disease that ate people out from the inside

One other, which I posted as a comment to Jerry:

  • Remember when our primary self-identification was as citizens—a relationship to each other not as consumers—a relationship to stuff?

But—speaking of stuff—I did find this:

…therein lies the business dilemma that this space periodically alludes to: if a prosperous economy depends on economic transactions, which usually involve an exchange of stuff, which has to be “produced,” which is done by applying energy to transform matter, which inevitably results in more junk…if stuff lust drives the cycle ever faster into debt, ecological fragility and social emptiness…if we all (in our personal if not business lives) care about this…how shall businesses design ways of doing business that step out of these cycles into products, processes and transactions that actually add value while minimizing rather than maximizing the flow of stuff around the surface of the earth?