Do you consider yourself a consumer?, discussion help

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  1. Do you consider yourself a consumer? How so? Has your feeling about being a “consumer” changed at all after watching the video? Clearly everyone needs to consume to live; what kinds of consumption are healthy and what kinds less healthy?
  2. Many of Annie’s stories involve travel to other countries where she witnesses people living with fewer resources (like fresh water) and less Stuff. Have you travelled to places where you’ve noticed differences in Stuff, such as the access to resources, or the amount of advertising, or the types of things available to purchase? If so, how did the people there seem to deal with these different circumstances? Did they seem unhappier, happier, or the same as folks back home? What lessons can you draw from your observations of life in the U.S. and elsewhere?
  3. Annie describes “externalized costs” as a major reason why our current economic system is unsustainable. These hidden costs, which are almost never represented in the price of Stuff we buy, accumulate at every stage in a product’s life, from Extraction to Disposal. Pick a product that you recently purchased. How much did you pay for it? Based on what you learned from Annie, what kinds of costs were likely hidden or externalized? What do you think the pricetag would be if those costs were internalized? Would you still have bought it if it cost that much? Would you be willing to pay more for goods if you knew they were manufactured in a safe and healthy way? And if they lasted longer?
  4. Annie posits that, for most of us, our consumer muscle is stronger and more developed than our citizen muscle. Of these two, which muscle is better developed in you? When you think of yourself and the broader society, do you see yourself more as a consumer or a citizen? In each role, what do you think the role of government really is? What should the top priorities of government and the economy be, in your opinion?

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