Posts Tagged ‘consumerism’

Monday Moaning

Consumerism!

The bane of modern society.

Today’s consumerism and the throw-away attitudes are major causes of society’s ills.

We should be looking at redressing the imbalance caused by planned obsolescence.

We should be looking at repairing what we have rather than chucking it in the bin and buying new.

We should be looking at the world of fashion that makes last year’s designs, too ‘last-year’ and the mania to buy new.

We should be supporting the local cobbler, learning how to use a sewing machine, looking for ways to economise instead of spend, spend, spend.

People are complaining they don’t have enough money to live on, but they make no effort to save money.

Don't throw them away, get them fixed

Don’t throw them away, get them fixed

Broken zipper, get it replaced, don't throw your good jeans away

Broken zipper, get it replaced, don’t throw your good jeans away

Missing button, sew on a new one

Missing button, sew on a new one

That's so last year, got to buy this years

That’s so last year, got to buy this years

All these are simple solutions.

But, oh no! Throw it away, it’s buggered, buy a new one.

Repair your shoes R$15 – Buy new shoes R$80

Fix your zipper (new) R$15 – Buy new jeans R$60-100

Sew on a button 30 cents & 10 minutes – Buy new shirt $20-50

Wear last year’s outfits R$0 – Buy this year’s R$100-500+

Unless we start and do things the way grandma did, we’ll never have enough money; and we’ll always be complaining about it.

What’s more, we need to shun the advertisers, we need to turn our backs on famous brands.

What’s more important, we need to teach our kids to do it.

We need to refuse the idea, it can’t be fixed.

 

Monday Moaning

My Monday Moaning has been interrupted by the loss of things to moan about with my recent PC troubles.

So, I am going to take a slightyly different tack today and have a good moan by reblogging George Monbiot’s article about the economy and our need material possessions that will be our undoing.

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It’s simple. If we can’t change our economic system, our number’s up

It’s the great taboo of our age – and the inability to discuss the pursuit of perpetual growth will prove humanity’s undoing

‘The mother narrative to all this is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots.’ Photograph: Alamy

Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham.

Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It’s 2.5 billion billion solar systems. It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse.

To succeed is to destroy ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have created. Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues miraculously vanished, the mathematics of compound growth make continuity impossible.

Economic growth is an artefact of the use of fossil fuels. Before large amounts of coal were extracted, every upswing in industrial production would be met with a downswing in agricultural production, as the charcoal or horse power required by industry reduced the land available for growing food. Every prior industrial revolution collapsed, as growth could not be sustained. But coal broke this cycle and enabled – for a few hundred years – the phenomenon we now call sustained growth.

It was neither capitalism nor communism that made possible the progress and pathologies (total war, the unprecedented concentration of global wealth, planetary destruction) of the modern age. It was coal, followed by oil and gas. The meta-trend, the mother narrative, is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots. Now, with the accessible reserves exhausted, we must ransack the hidden corners of the planet to sustain our impossible proposition.

On Friday, a few days after scientists announced that the collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet is now inevitable, the Ecuadorean government decided to allow oil drilling in the heart of the Yasuni national park. It had made an offer to other governments: if they gave it half the value of the oil in that part of the park, it would leave the stuff in the ground. You could see this as either blackmail or fair trade. Ecuador is poor, its oil deposits are rich. Why, the government argued, should it leave them untouched without compensation when everyone else is drilling down to the inner circle of hell? It asked for $3.6bn and received $13m. The result is that Petroamazonas, a company with a colourful record of destruction and spills, will now enter one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, in which a hectare of rainforest is said to contain more species than exist in the entire continent of North America.

Yasuni national park. Murray Cooper/Minden Pictures/Corbis

Yasuni national park. Murray Cooper/Minden Pictures/Corbis

The UK oil firm Soco is now hoping to penetrate Africa’s oldest national park, Virunga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo; one of the last strongholds of the mountain gorilla and the okapi, of chimpanzees and forest elephants. In Britain, where a possible 4.4 billion barrels of shale oil has just been identified in the south-east, the government fantasises about turning the leafy suburbs into a new Niger delta. To this end it’s changing the trespass laws to enable drilling without consent and offering lavish bribes to local people. These new reserves solve nothing. They do not end our hunger for resources; they exacerbate it.

The trajectory of compound growth shows that the scouring of the planet has only just begun. As the volume of the global economy expands, everywhere that contains something concentrated, unusual, precious, will be sought out and exploited, its resources extracted and dispersed, the world’s diverse and differentiated marvels reduced to the same grey stubble.

Some people try to solve the impossible equation with the myth of dematerialisation: the claim that as processes become more efficient and gadgets are miniaturised, we use, in aggregate, fewer materials. There is no sign that this is happening. Iron ore production has risen 180% in 10 years. The trade body Forest Industries tells us that “global paper consumption is at a record high level and it will continue to grow”. If, in the digital age, we won’t reduce even our consumption of paper, what hope is there for other commodities?

Look at the lives of the super-rich, who set the pace for global consumption. Are their yachts getting smaller? Their houses? Their artworks? Their purchase of rare woods, rare fish, rare stone? Those with the means buy ever bigger houses to store the growing stash of stuff they will not live long enough to use. By unremarked accretions, ever more of the surface of the planet is used to extract, manufacture and store things we don’t need. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that fantasies about colonising space – which tell us we can export our problems instead of solving them – have resurfaced.

As the philosopher Michael Rowan points out, the inevitabilities of compound growth mean that if last year’s predicted global growth rate for 2014 (3.1%) is sustained, even if we miraculously reduced the consumption of raw materials by 90%, we delay the inevitable by just 75 years. Efficiency solves nothing while growth continues.

The inescapable failure of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth’s living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence. As a result, they are mentioned almost nowhere. They are the 21st century’s great taboo, the subjects guaranteed to alienate your friends and neighbours. We live as if trapped inside a Sunday supplement: obsessed with fame, fashion and the three dreary staples of middle-class conversation: recipes, renovations and resorts. Anything but the topic that demands our attention.

Statements of the bleeding obvious, the outcomes of basic arithmetic, are treated as exotic and unpardonable distractions, while the impossible proposition by which we live is regarded as so sane and normal and unremarkable that it isn’t worthy of mention. That’s how you measure the depth of this problem: by our inability even to discuss it.

Source: The Guardian

Opinion:

Once again, the inescapable fact, we are the authors of our own demise.

We must change the paradigm, not only change it, but halt the current in it’s tracks. Our whole thinking about the human race needs to be rethought.

The 1% that are driving this insanity have to be stopped, brought to heel. But that is an insane idea, the money-hungry meglomanics will never stop.

Seriously, there is a need for a global  ‘French Revolution.’

 

Make you Fink on Friday

I have written on planned obsolescence in four posts here in the last couple of years. You can put ‘planned obsolescence’ in the dinky little search box on the title bar to find them.

All designed to breakdown before their time

All designed to break down before their time

Principally, planned obsolescence is designing objects and appliances to wear out and stop working at a predetermined time so that you will be forced to buy a new one. Products that last a lifetime are not good for manufacturers who want to sell more.

But while planned obsolescence refers to technical goods and household appliances, does it go further?

From my personal experience.

Two tears, the smaller one on the white line

Two tears, the smaller one on the white line

I have two recent examples, first a couple of years ago I bought two sheets for my bed. Yesterday, I noticed a frayed tear in one of them, which was joined by another tear this morning.

Okay, the sheet has had it.

Now trotting back more than a few years. My mother bought sheets at the time she got married, those sheets were still being used on her silver wedding anniversary, 25 years later, and possibly longer, I don’t know the story beyond that.

Now I look at what is the difference?

One, my mother’s sheets were probably made in New Zealand and my sheets may have been made in Brazil, or imported from the likes of India or China. Now it is evident that the quality of the two lots of sheets is remarkably different. Is it due to planned obsolescence through the use of inferior materials and/or manufacturing methods, or simply that the third world countries make shittier products?

My second example is about socks.

In 1996 I bought three pair of socks in New Zealand before I returned to Brazil. I was still using those same socks twelve years later, and that would have been longer if my house hadn’t burned down resulting in their loss.

Brazilian socks on the other hand develop their first holes after six months. I have never had a pair of Brazilian socks that has gone beyond this time.

Once again, I ask, is this planned obsolescence through inferior materials and/or manufacture, or simply the third world problem again?

Or are the two problems partly linked?

Is this planned obsolescence creeping into every aspect of our lives?

Less spending power makes you rely on credit

Less spending power makes you rely on credit

This constant buying of and replacing goods through the loss due to planned obsolescence is a major drain on our financial resources which has resulted in the middle classes having less disposable income. We have less spending power.

We must also make the link to consumerism. I am using a cellphone that was made five plus years ago, now that is a long time. I am under no illusion that it will cease to work sometime in the near future. I also have friends who have had their more recent models break down in less time than I have had mine, resulting in them buying a newer model with more features.

This has lead to consumerism, where they have begun to buy newer models simply for the newer features, rather than their original unit breaking down.

As a society, we have got to fight back. We have got to face this consumerism head on and refuse to succumb to it; because this has the spin off of depleting the planet’s resources, faster.

Think about this. Have you had non-technical household products that have not lasted as long as you expected?

 

Change the World Wednesday – 4th July

I am sitting here, devastated. I mean, I knew this was coming, we were warned last week. But it’s a bit like, it’ll never happen, until it does.

I need more coffee.

No CTWW this week. What do I do before work. 6am on a Wednesday, every Wednesday, I am primed to produce a CTWW… and today, nothing.

I click on the CTWW Banner that takes me to Reduce Footprints, and all I get is Happy 4th July!

Not everybody has a Fourth of July, only Americans, what about the rest of the world? In Brazil it’s 7th September, but I still blog, New Zealand has Waitangi Day on 6th Feb, but they still blog…

So, I’m going to continue…

I am going to set the challenge…

How many useless appliances do you have at home? How many appliances do you have that you could do without? How many appliances do you have that should really never have been invented?

Look at this.

Does the world really need a ‘kitty/puppy warmer’?

No!

Kitties and puppies are well designed to keep warm. They have fur, it’s Mother Nature’s way of keeping them warm. They also have a natural instinct to find the warmest places, in a sunny window, on the hood of the car, on the bed when you get out, in front of the radiator or on the coffee pot.

They don’t need an electric warmer bed!

There is so much made in this world that we don’t need. Things are invented to make money, to make you spend.

This is consumerism. It doesn’t make you rich, it makes companies rich and keeps you poor, keeps you dependent and wanting more.

Go on, tell me how many things there are in your house that you could really do without.

Have a Happy Fourth of July!

Earth Summit 1982 – 2012 R.I.P.

A pretty logo, thousands of delegates, millions of dollars in a city that didn’t listen in 1982 and they couldn’t fight their way out of a supermarket bag.

Hot air and the predicted nothing of importance was the outcome.

Oh, they’ll crow and make noises about being a success despite the summit being watered down and diluted like bad whisky.

In reality, it was a FLOP.

This summit was probably the most important of its kind ever held. It is the last of its kind where we have a chance to save anything. In another 20 years, there won’t be anything salvageable to save.

The sustainability of this planet is under threat. The threat is so dire and so imminent that we can’t trust politicians to deal with it.

This mess is beyond political solutions.

The big problem is that we have arrived at this point by being lead by the nose by politicians and their fancy rhetoric.

We have to change the whole paradigm.

The politicians must be kept at bay with huge sharp sticks. They must be kept totally out of the solution making process. You can’t fix a problem by using the same thinking that created it.

It is high time for the people to take control, because politicians can’t be trusted. The people have to turn to independent specialists  with no political agenda, platform or axe to grind.

We have to give the scientists and philosophers a chance to succeed where the politicians have failed. Any corporate, military or government affiliations would disqualify anticipated members of such a solution.

The results would be mandatory. The governments would have to follow or be tried for treason in that they have betrayed the planet. The governments would have no say in the matters, they would have no veto, they would implement the ideas regardless of the financial loses to the corporations, Wall Street or the lobbyists.

Bitter pill, swallow it!

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The world has given the governments the chance to fix the problems time and time again; and each time they have failed, failed so miserably that it is an embarrassment.

There is only one choice left.

We have no option but to heed it, or we are doomed to perish.

We are already on the verge of annihilation with the nuclear issue, but if there is a remote chance of ridding ourselves of nuclear energy, we have to consider the people.

No, it’s my ball! You go find another one to destroy!

The human race is out of control.

It’s not the planet that needs saving, it’s us that need stopping.

It is our insatiable need to have everything and do nothing to produce it.

We have raised each successive generation to to ‘want & want now!’

Consumerism and debt are our biggest enemies.

20 years ago

In 1982 Severn Suzuki, a 12 year old made an impassioned plea; she literally silenced the world for six minutes.

This time it is Brittany Trilford from Wellington, New Zealand to address the Rio +20.

“A Wellington school girl has stood before world leaders and called for an end to broken environmental promises.

Brittany Trilford, 17, was one of the opening speakers at Earth Summit 2012 in Brazil this morning.

She was selected after an impassioned video that impressed a jury including Hollywood actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Don Cheadle.

The Queen Margaret College pupil showed no nerves as she stood before the crowd.

“I’m here to fight for my future. That’s it,” she said.

She said environmental problems were getting worse and action remained inadequate.

“We plunder away our natural resources, diminishing our biodiversity, our oceans, our forests, and then we demand more.”

Her speech follows in the tradition of  Severn Suzuki, “the girl who silenced the world for six minutes” after her speech at the original 1992 Earth Summit in Rio as a 12-year-old.” – The Dominion Post

This is her message:

The question is, will the leaders listen?

Only if the corporations let them.

Monday Moaning

With the world’s population growing at an exponential rate, so too are the uses of nature’s resources and we are running out.

Are we looking at another case of the tail wagging the dog?

We are trying to stem the population growth rate by preventing births, when in fact the problem is we have achieved such medical breakthroughs that not enough people are dying. But, that’s a separate issue

To me the obvious problem is consumerism.

We have become such a consumer society that each day our hunger for ‘more’ and ‘new’ has become outrageous. Our hankering for the ‘lastest’, ‘biggest’ and ‘fastest’ has driven our utilisation of resources beyond the levels of sustainable.

As a society our ethos has to change.

The existing paradigm is not working.

We are giving our kids the wrong message, they give their kids an even worse message, the problem is exacerbated with every generation.

Read a great message on: Stiff Kitten’s Blog a definition of what we have become.

Think about the useless products that are created that people don't need. If you can't crack an egg, stay out of the kitchen

With each new product, we have production increases, more materials used, more pollution, more problems with transport, more and more we find ourselves in the predicament of how do we dispose of the extra rubbish generated. The trash is the packaging and the the advertising. The advertising is polluting our media and the internet, sign boards are polluting our vision, light is polluting our skies, so that we can’t even see the stars at night in the cities. Then there is the dilemma of the disposal of outdated products and worn out components.

Society has to change. We have got to control our cravings. Our mentality is totally screwed up.

The scale of consumerism is closely linked to corporate greed. The corporations want to make more money, so they make more products; to sell the products they have to brainwash the consumer into needing them. The cycle is vicious and never-ending.

It is essential that we tackle consumerism before population control. We have to get the dog back in control of its tail.

 

 

Change the World Wednesday – 18th Jan

Nope, wrong salvation! Can't trust Google

Salvation!

I woke this morning, and there it was… Change the World Wednesday.

I must admit that I did miss our weekly challenges. I even wrote a pseudo CTWW last week in a desperate attempt to regain my sanity.

I even took the time and made pickled onions and bottled beetroot as an attempt to remain ‘green’ during CTWW’s absence.

But let’s box right along and see what Small Footprints has for us first up this New Year. BTW, Happy New Year to all those who I didn’t get round to contacting.

The first CTWW for the year is a toughy. It’s one of those without a real topic that makes you think.

And by think, I mean think hard. All those who know me understand that when I think it sends danger signals around the known world. I try not to upset the proverbial ‘applecart’ but sometimes it just, sort of, happens.

This Week’s Challenge:

January is typically the time of year that we set goals, make resolutions and start anew. So, in that spirit, let’s take a look at “road blocks” to green living and find some solutions. Here you go …

This week, please share road blocks to green living. For example, perhaps you’d really like to compost but don’t. We’d like to know why. Maybe you don’t recycle … let us know why. We’re looking for all the reasons for NOT adopting a green activity. If you’re not struggling with any road blocks at this time, then please share ones which you’ve heard from others. For example, one of the most common reasons is that it’s too expensive.

Then …

Take a look at the road blocks shared and offer solutions. For example, to people who say green living is too expensive, we might share examples of how green living is actually frugal. The idea of this challenge is to help us all find solutions and “bust” all excuses for not living green.

Long ago I discovered that making resolutions was a fools game; New Years ones particularly. I don’t make resolutions, that way I never disappoint myself. But that’s not to say that I can’t enter into the spirit of things.

I guess most will be thinking along the lines of, “local bodies won’t do this,” or perhaps, “the government won’t do that,” or even “the local supermarket is not doing…”

Getting down to the roots

But I am going to tackle this at a more ‘grassroots’ level.

The ‘road blocks’ are not put up by the local bodies, government nor the supermarkets, well, they are; but they are not the primary road block.

The primary road block, as I see it, is us. Yes, me, you, them, the neighbours, the teachers, Santa Claus and the people at the bus stop, yes, everybody.

Yes, we are the primary road block, all of us.

Our attitude to life stinks. It reeks of “want and want now!”

We have become careless, selfish and egocentric. We have become soft, lazy and useless. We have become reliant, we have become greedy and we have become self-righteous.

It is US that needs to change. Society needs to STOP and take account of itself. The western governments worldwide have brought us to the brink of ruin, and we have let them. Technology has taken us, within a very short space of time, from the industrial age to high-tech with promises of ‘the more technology, the more progress, the more progress and our lives will be easier.’

That’s bullshit!

We are working harder, longer hours and for less money than before. The ‘golden years,’ the ‘American dream (or national equivalent)’ has gone. With the passing of the consumer years it has left us weak and defensless.

We need to stop ‘wanting’ and start ‘giving.’ We need to stop ‘taking’ and start ‘doing.’

Until we change our attitudes and stop buying PS3s or whatever, stop buying gas-guzzling SUVs, stop wanting that new [X] because the old one is the wrong colour or has two more megapixels, or “I have to get the kitchen remodeled because oak is out this year;” the world will continue on its course to ruin and damnation.

The world needs to focus on education. The people need to make the local bodies, governments and local supermarkets know what we want. Because without voice, nothing will change, nothing.

The few who read this blog are, in the main educated. I am really preaching to the converted, what we need to do is convert, your family, your friends, the people in power.

The people have become tainted, poisoned, engulfed by consumerism. It is this consumerism that is our downfall.

We need to change!

We need to change our mentality, our thinking and our priorities.

That is what I see as the primary ‘road block.’ I rest my case.

 

 

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