Friday, April 30, 2010

Consuming Everything: CCFC and the Oil Spill by Susan Linn, Ed.D

I know I'm not alone in my inability to stop thinking about that oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. Sometimes it's foremost in my thoughts, but often it's more in the background, like chronic anxiety, or some dull but persistent toothache. And, as we go about our daily work at CCFC, I'm thinking more than ever about sustainability and its links to our mission of reclaiming childhood from corporate marketers. We can't achieve a sustainable society without curbing consumption.

Lifetime consumer habits begin in childhood. That's one big reason why children are targeted so intensely with marketing and why it needs to stop. As Josh Golin and I wrote in a piece for the Huffington Post on Earth Day last year, "Marketing doesn't just sell children individual products. Its dominant message is that consumption is the path to happiness and self-fulfillment." Marketers sell consumption, not just as a lifestyle, but as the lifestyle. Limiting children's exposure to corporate marketing allows them the time and space to learn to take their pleasure in other people, nature, and their own creative play, rather than relying for satisfaction on the things that corporations sell. Children deserve a commercial-free childhood, and the earth deserves it as well.

So, while what may be the worst un-natural environmental disaster of all time unfolds, I am reminded that the commercialization of childhood affects so much more than families currently raising children. The primacy of marketplace values-and instilling those values into the next generation-imperils everyone. It's true that children benefit immediately and directly when we limit their exposure to commercial marketing. But the impact is so much broader. Allowing kids to grow up free from bombardment by marketing messages is our best chance to nurture adults who recognize the value of preserving, rather than exploiting, environmental riches-who define themselves more as stewards than consumers. By working for the rights of children to grow up-and the freedom for parents to raise them-without being undermined by commercialism, CCFC promotes a more sustainable world.
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