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Overconsumption Spurred by Consumer Reports

Summary: Inadvertently or by design, Consumer Reports' reviews furthers the corporate agenda by spurring consumption of unneeded crap.

80% + of my letters to the editor have been published.
Consumer Reports didn't publish this one, nor did I receive a response to my follow up letter.

8/23/99


Dear Editor:


Consumers' fraud losses are dwarfed by losses from legal spurring of over-consumption. Even Consumer Reports inadvertently spurs us, but this could be remedied.

Add "Do you need this?," a brief item in every article, with info such as the percentage of households in the US and Europe which don't own, say, dishwashers or leafblowers, factors to consider in the decision to buy, alternatives, etc.

Consider the 4/99 CR. Did a car salesman edit it? Cars in showrooms got 59 pages, expensive used cars 20, and pre-1991 cars (HALF of used cars) not one word. A cheap car is the best option you don't drive much. I have friends who bought houses with money saved by not owning cars at all. Despite their enormous economic, environmental, and social benefits, CR consigns these options to oblivion.

Two paragraphs mention "green" new cars. Nothing on greenness of used cars, or car alternatives such as bicycles. Bicycles cost 90% less...and provide needed balance to suggestions like a $8-10,000 1993 Honda Accord as the "best first car for your kid." With CR, who needs paid corporate advertising to loosen our purse strings?

The decision to buy at all is more important than which one. If CR doesn't help keep this vital question alive in its reader's minds, who will?


Art Ludwig
Ecological Designer
Author, Living with Nature

PS-thanks for informing our choice of a 1991 Honda Civic dx or 1995 Geo Metro...if we get a second car.


Epilogue: We ended up buying a 1990 Honda Civic, which has turned out to be an excellent car, but was off the bottom end of the scale of the consumer reports used car reviews. In conjunction with the economy of my 1978 Toyota Truck, driving less than half as much as the average American, use of carpooling, public transport and bicycles (including not owning a car until late in life) --but little thanks to Consumer Reports--we have saved a huge pile of money. How huge? Enough money to pay for our house in Santa Barbara.

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