Sunday, September 20, 2009

You can't sell Conservation

©2009 Joshua Stark

It's a fact: You can't sell, "buy less."

This sounds silly, but frankly, this is a huge hurdle for the conservation/environmental community, because the overwhelming majority of our communication is funded by advertising and marketing.
Consider newspapers, magazines, television, the internet. Ironically, the proliferation of 'free' advice, news articles, recipes, etc., has had a magnifying effect on advertising and marketing. Everywhere we go, from computers to urinals, we see advertisements, to help cover the costs for the advice you get when you google "how to hunt wild pigs" or some such thing.

This is understandable. People's time is worth something, and so is their expertise. However, this becomes problematic for a community whose name means "to use sparingly".

This idea struck me as I was standing in line at a local grocery store. I noticed a number of magazines whose purpose was to teach frugality, budgeting and such things. The first thing that popped into my head was, "okay, I'll start being frugal by not buying a magazine." As I was driving home, it really came home (this happens because I often drive a car with no radio) that conservationists and environmentalists have a problem here. Our community has realized that a huge part of our impact is our disposable economy, the number of single-use, individually wrapped items in our markets.

Nowhere is this dichotomy more present than in the hunting industry. From actual hunting implements to scent eliminators and wind detectors, hunters are inundated with new products each year, and every hunting magazine spends inordinate column-space on the top 50 products, or the year's newest and best. At the same time, many hunters choose hunting as an atavistic activity, a way to take their food honestly and with skill, while hoping to 'get back to nature' in their endeavors.

Let's face it: Most of the new stuff is cool (with the exception of a "Euro" look I've seen on some shotguns, which is hideous). Designers do a good job in using packaging, fashion, politics, and other ways to sway folks towards a purchase. But, most of the new stuff has also been manufactured where labor is cheapest, and shipped thousands of miles.

Meanwhile, we worry about impacts on the habitat and resource, and we get really angry when we come across blatant littering and waste.

Well, my one, small suggestion when considering this dilemma, at least for hunters, is to consider exactly what we admire. We often appreciate the older guns, the leather and oilskin products whose wear and scars don't come at the factory, but from years of reliable use. We admire maintaining and becoming familiar with our equipment. We strive for self-sufficiency.

Which of these traits is compatible with buying a new one every year? Which do we usually hold in higher regard, the hunter who just bought a brand new over/under, or the hunter who has hunted with the same old pump gun for 25 years and has limited out most times?

Folks have to make a living, this is true, and with our economy in its current shape, retailers are hit especially hard. But, for these reasons, for the long-term health of a sustainable economy as well as helping habitat, we should consider practicing with our current equipment, waiting and buying only those pieces of equipment that will foster those traits we admire most about hunting and good hunters, and also seriously trying to purchase American made products when we do decide a purchase, even if it costs a few dollars more.


Albert A Rasch said...

Good post, and I see you have a code in there for tracking; excellant.

I'll put your post in for this Saturday's Rodeo.

Best regards,
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
National Hunting and Fishing Day

Josh said...

Thanks, Albert, for the advice on helping to avoid plagiarism, and for listing me this Saturday!