Tapestry

Beyond consumerism

J.B. MacKinnon has travelled the world to try and discover what might be inconceivable to many – what if, one day, the world stops shopping? Thad Russell’s parents built an off grid home, but their plan to live a more modest life wasn’t as nearly simple as they hoped.
(Ben Shannon)

What if the world stopped shopping?

From the Kalahari Desert to an island in Japan, writer J.B. MacKinnon has travelled the world to try and discover what may be inconceivable to many – what if, one day, the world stops shopping?   

"It is clear that in corporate culture, people are recognizing that the sheer volume of consumption is a problem," says MacKinnon.

"It's just that they can't think past that to, well, how things might be different."

J.B. MacKinnon is an author and journalist living in Vancouver. His latest book, The Day the World Stops Shopping, explores whether there are alternatives to consumer culture and what those alternatives would look like.

Building a utopia that wasn't

Thad Russell grew up in suburban Boston, but his parents felt disconnected from the wealthy neighbourhood they lived in. In 1990, they built a small, off-the-grid solar powered home in rural Vermont. But their plan to live a more modest life wasn't as simple as they had hoped.

"Their idea was that they wanted this compound of little rough-hewn buildings to be a self-sufficient place. A sort of lifeboat of a place where you could be happily disconnected from the rest of the world and society and the economy if you had to be," says Russell.

"I think they never expected or predicted that age, fatigue and ultimately illness would get in the way of them being able to attain the sort of idealistic, utopian vision that they [had] for themselves."

Thad Russell is a photographer and writer who lives in Providence, Rhode Island. He wrote about what it was like visiting his parents' former home in The Atlantic.

 

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