Consumed: Part One - Most Recent

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Invest in a 'green-collar' future

Nov 14, 2007
Majora Carter is a community activist from The Bronx, a part of New York that's home to more than its fair share of waste and power plants that serve the whole city. She wants investment in a greener, more equitable future.
Posted In: Health, Jobs
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Our e-waste comes back to haunt us

Nov 14, 2007
There's a thriving global industry recovering the precious metals in the millions of electronic devices we throw away each year. But the toxic by-products are showing up in cheap imported goods. Scott Tong reports from China.
Posted In: Health
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Bhutan's falling happiness index

Nov 14, 2007
Once-isolated Bhutan glimpsed the rest of the world seven years ago with the arrival of TV and the Internet. Now happiness is an increasingly rare commodity, and young people dance in blue jeans.
Posted In: Travel
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Public solutions or private enterprise?

Nov 13, 2007
Can the profit motive solve our energy problems? Management professor Stuart Hart of Cornell University, and physics professor emeritus Marty Hoffert of New York University consider that question with host Kai Ryssdal.
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We must reduce super-sized appetites

Nov 13, 2007
Some economists believe we can innovate our way out of the global problem of carbon emissions. But Boston College professor Juliet Schor says what we really need to do is go on a consumer diet.
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Home-grown energy independence

Nov 13, 2007
The farming town of Reynolds is a potential Saudi Arabia of bio-fuel and it's looking to become energy independent. So far, it's still a big gamble, but town leaders think it will work -- if they can lure investors.
Posted In: Investing, Science
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Taxing ourselves green

Nov 12, 2007
Commentator Robert Frank says we don't need to transform human nature to do something about global warming, we just need to change people's incentives. A global carbon tax will hit folks in the wallet, and money is always a powerful incentive.
Posted In: Taxes
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Greed as a disease

Nov 12, 2007
America's consumer economy may be a symptom of a bigger illness -- and it could be killing us all. As a species, we simply don't know what to do with all this excess, says prominent UCLA researcher Dr. Peter Whybrow.
Posted In: Health, Retail
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Speeding up the consumerism treadmill

Nov 12, 2007
Consumption has nearly doubled in the U.S., and fashion leads the way. One growing retail fashion chain, H&M, specializes in budget knockoffs of high-end clothing, with inventory coming in daily. Amy Scott reports from the shopping frenzy.
Posted In: Economy
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Crisco: A marketing revolution

Nov 12, 2007
Crisco is a staple in many American kitchens and a must-have for homemade pies. But it's also an invented food made by chemists, and the story of how the white stuff became a must-have has become a marketing legend. Sarah Gardner reports.

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About this collection

We are what we buy -- a glib adage to be sure, but it prompts an interesting question: Is our consumer society sustainable? Marketplace and American Public Media take on that question in this special series. We follow consumerism from its origins to its dominance in the world's economy and, arguably, its culture. And we examine how, and if, it might be adapted to reduce its destructive consequences while keeping store shelves stocked.

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Recent comments on our stories..

NickMullins's picture

When the coal layoffs trickle down

My great grandfather started in the coal mines of Southwestern Virginia in 1936 during a time when logging companies such as W.M. Ritter were...

PMG's picture

The loaded meaning behind 'What do you do?'

A great passage from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil:

“If you go to Atlanta, the first question people ask you is, "What'...

LLB's picture

When being cheap isn't worth it

Every time I try to fix my bike, I make the problem worse and have to go to the bike shop anyway. It doesn't matter how many books and...

mormuno01's picture

The secret life of a food stamp

Your article makes a lot of sense. Without the help of food stamps these people that are spending money at Walmart would be on the streets,...