EXPERIENCE MATTERS: CONNECTIONS OVER CONSUMERISM

From top left to bottom right: Camping at Treebones, hiking in Big Sur, wandering through Pickathon, snapshot from our Loam Slow Fashion series with Hilda Vargas and Rick Hong Manayan, Rhys rapping at the VIBES music festival, view from Torrey Pines, exploring White Sands, and navigating New Mexico.

WORDS & IMAGES: KATE WEINER

Our latest Loam project—check out our Work With What You Have campaign and Field Guide series for more inspiration—is a call to action against consumerism. We're rallying against mindless consumption by embracing experiences that awaken in us a deep love for the earth and for one another.

Most of us have been raised in an environment where the accumulation of stuff is a sign that you've made it. And it's not that Loam is against consumption in its entirety: hell, just last week, I spent a delicious afternoon pretty much buying out an urban farm supply store (I needed a little support in my vertical garden endeavors!) As I explored in my essay, "A New Kind Of Conscious Consumerism," however, there are multiple channels for consumption. When we buy from a place of scarcity, when we seek replacements rather than repairing, we actively contribute to the capitalist systems responsible for climate change. Badass activist Grace Lee Bogs argues that this sort of consumption is dehumanizing. We give over our identities to brands, lose our sense of self in a quixotic quest for more, more, more. We distract rather than dive in.

So let's dive in to the nourishing act of being human. Let's shift our focus away from consumption and toward connection. It's easy to want to heal a wound by projecting onto an object. But healing our hearts—and healing our earth—means digging into shared experiences.

As part of our Experience Matters Project, we want you to share your stories of life-affirming experiences of radical inhabitation with us. Loam loves Lizzy Elliott and Matilda Ostow recently inspired me to reflect on this process of engagement with our social and natural ecosystems. Radical inhabitation is about "reinvigorating our relationship to the environment by fostering a stronger sense of stewardship of the earth." What a wildly yummy and profoundly necessary idea! We are of this earth, really and truly, and so are responsible for continuing to find ways to inhabit this gorgeous, complex planet.

Want a list of things to do next? Follow our Experience Matters checklist, below, to help you deepen your environmental activist practice.

  1. Commit yourself to the 80/20 challenge. This anti-consumerist challenge is two-fold. The first part is about conducting a waste audit. Dumpster diving in your own trash bin will help you to be more mindful about what you throw out. The second part is about deciding to source used products 80% of the time. Working with what's already in circulation is a powerful way to combat climate change. I've found for myself that thinking through this lens has drastically decreased my consumerist itch (although not having a lot of money also helps)! Seek out new experiences rather than new things—your soul will thank you for it.
  2. Write a list of experiences that you want in your life. Identifying what matters to you will help clarify what kind of places you are most passionate about preserving. Determine where your energy lies and use it. And be sure to write down experiences that are possible close to home. So often, we think we have to go far way to find magic. There is magic right where you are. Grow where you are planted by carving out the time to watch the sun rise or the storm clouds roll in or a tree waver in the wind.
  3. Take a tech detox, even if it's only for a morning. There's a lot that I love about technology—I couldn't share this project without it!—but it can also take away from experiences. Call a friend rather than text. Send a postcard to someone you love. Purposefully cultivate opportunities to connect in the flesh by cutting back on screen time. There is so much that can only happen when we are together, breathing in the same air.
  4. Make plans with people to go places. So simple, right? But sometimes, we can't leave it up to the last minute. Create a game plan for an experience and then go experience it.

We're so looking forward to hearing your stories and growing the Experience Matters Project together. Sending you all loamy love and hoping you find magic wherever you are today!