This is a box of yellow crayons. They were handed to me by an employee at Target as a free gift a few weeks ago, and today I’m throwing them away because I don’t need them. I never needed them, but I took them on reflex because they were free.
A few weeks ago I attended Catcon, a convention of cat lovers. It was a fun event, and it saved a lot of cat lives and gave a lot of people joy. But it was also full of vendors passing out promotional freebies, and conference attendees shoving those freebies by the handful into their goodie bags — things like plastic keychains and decals for cat litter companies. Things that with the best will on earth, no one in earth needs even one of, much less two or 12 or 20 of. But they were free, so people had to have them, and as many of them as possible. Like the crayons, they will all likely also end up in landfills, after they finish cluttering up our houses and our peace of mind by adding to the mounds of cheap crap that most of us fill our lives with.
Many of the people grabbing fistfuls of free crayons at Target and freebies at Catcon and and turning Dollar Store into a destination shopping experience are the same people who wish they had more freedom in their lives, wish they didn’t have to work at a job they don’t like, wish our environment was cleaner, wish they had more time to help causes they believe in.
The mindless accumulation of free and cheap crap keeps us from having all of those things. Those things aren’t free or cheap. They are very expensive because they have to be stored, sorted and maintained, all of which cost money and time and keep us from the freedom and choices that we say we want.
Are you seeing the pattern here? If you really want a life of freedom, if you really want to make a difference, if you really want to protect the planet, for the love of God, turn down the free crayons.