Reconciling consumerism with environmental needs. What are we all doing?

  1. I thought about this issue for a while before posting. I think this is a relevant TPF thread because a lot of the media coming from designers these days has to do with reducing consumptive patterns. It seems like a double standard given what their industry is.

    I found this video on Vivienne Westwood (via Hint Magazine) talking about it. She's backing a philosophy of forcing consumers to choose how they spend their money by making the goods cost more, thus reducing spending.

    (I'm having a hard time getting this youtube video to show on here, but here is the link: )

    She says a lot of bad stuff in that video about America (even though we're not the only guilty ones), but I'm more interested in focusing on the concept of reducing consumerism. I'm not sure her mechanism works. Higher priced goods don't always result in reduced buying do they?

    I'm really interested in my personal impact and having a hard time with it. So many of my hobbies involve "owning things."

    Along the lines of the Story of Stuff, I have reduced my disposables usage (I have two "I'm not a plastic bag" bags), but as long as my ipod needs to be replaced every few years that doesn't help anything.

    I'm curious what other people think about this. Ideas on how to reconcile the current system we're in with how to effectively save our environment. Is it possible? :idea:
  2. There was an excellent article in the past issue of "The Economist" which perhaps is online. It's about green-spending or green-marketing. Basically, companies can only be half a step ahead in terms of how environmentally-conscious it brands and produces its products: one step ahead, you're not going to get consumer commitment, one step behind and you're not a leader.

    I, too, have a hard time reconciling my desire for ease, comfort and convenience with environmental responsiblity. I'll be the first to admit that given two products, I'm inclined to choose the one that's easier to buy and less expensive. But knowing this about myself has helped me a lot in curbing my own irresponsibility. So if I know I want meat tonight, I will make sure to pay a few dollars more for free-range, organically-fed meat and just buy less of it (better for the waist-line anyway!). If I need beauty or cleaning supplies, I head now more often to Trader Joe's instead of a department store or Target, because I know that the former store has a wide range of ethically produced beauty and cleaning items. Sure, it's not quite as glamorous as the prettily-packaged goo that's been smeared into rabbit's eyes and ears and injected into the mouths of baby kittens... but damned if I don't feel a little more beautiful on the inside knowing that the beauty products I use didn't harm a living creature.

    I ALWAYS carry a fold-up large Longchamp nylon bag with me to carry groceries or goods. Plastic bags need to be banned (and I believe they already are in San Francisco?) as does Styrofoam (NOTHING in the city of Berkeley is served in Styrofoam, not even Jamba Juice).

    It's definitely possible to save the environment as long as we're willing to admit that we want and value convenience as a culture. If we continue to demand convenience, but we also demand products that are ethical and environmentally-responsible, companies are going to step up to meet that challenge. It boggles my mind to think how fast we as consumers can turn things around if we are just a little more adament about what we want rather than taking whatever it is we get.
  3. I've been trying to do better as well. I often have trouble finding the organic meat in my grocery store, so that's been a little more difficult for me. I've changed all my detergents and cleaning supplies to 7th Generation or similar. I've bought the reusable Wegman's bags for my groceries.

    I LOVE the Le Pilage bag idea IntlSet! :yahoo: I think I will be getting one of those to keep in my purse. I have always struggled with what to do when I go out to the mall or random shopping. Thanks for sharing it :smile:
  4. I love topics like this.:heart::heart::heart:
    I am all for "green", preserve Earth and thus helping humanity.
    I CARE!!!

    It is simple, like the U2 song said, "what we don't have we don't need".

    We should be less of a disposable "cheap, easily replaced, stress on quantity" society and more of a "quality of life" society.

    It would help if we spend more on products that is of a quality workmanship & materials that enables us to "recycle" and "reuse" than something cheaply/carelessly made thus breaking all the time for you to replace....
    think on how much more "human junk" we are adding to the landfill???!!!

    E.g. (I may be crucified here but I am Chinese & I have a human right) "Made in China" cheap labored goods/products may not be as healthy for your mind (breaks due to lack of/faulty quality; then you spend more), body (look at the ENVIRONMENT the product is produced in and the ENVIRONMENT the factories MADE for producing these products), soul (NOT HEALTHY for YOU/ME HEALTH-wise period; google search for all them unsafe products). ARE only reasons why as a chinese I do not support their ethics and products... I want to SEE QUALITY products from them!!! Google search yourself for the links... I am just SAD at how one of the biggest population of mankind leads the world in its economic and industrial ethics.

    Stressing on "higher" quality product that you know with research and knowledge how it is made, if the laboring on the product is abused don't support it will cut down on companies abusing these fellow human (no one buying from a non-humane company = them not surviving and going out of business).

    We need to "honor design concepts and patent rights/copy rights etc":
    Like "Fakes"; if no one buy fakes.... would there be any around since there is no market for it? Less a copycat to take away the market share of the original designers; less a designer have to sub out for "cheaper" ways to make their own products more "sell-able" price-wise to the public. Less a designer have to be "cheap" to fight against these "copy-cats" that uses NO effort ($$ in research) and just reproducing plus distributing "an inventive concept" that is not rightfully theirs to begin with to cheat consumers out of their money for a "cheaper", second hand concepts.

    As Consumers, we need to be WISE, NOT "materialistic" and SAVE $$$ (Cheap products, YOU may not "pay now" BUT you "pay in the long run":
    A great product invested is in its "longevity" that it can accompany you in your life's journey, NOT on a lesser product that you can "afford" to replace.

    A great product IS "valuable"; can accompany you through your life's journey will be able to create your life's story to be passed down to your younger generation or even a shared moment with your friends. A lesser product that craps out on you that you need to replace is just that "a replacement", of no value.

    A lesser product invested in the long run will make you spend as much or if not more than you would have on a great product.

    Since you have a great product, why on earth would you need that "lesser" one?

    IF HEALTHIER EARTH = GREEN (save $$$, papers, resources and earth) = HEALTHIER ME

    HEALTHIER HUMANITY = LESS if not NO LABOR ABUSE (Child labor, blood diamonds scenerio etc more peace of mind) = HEALTHIER CONSUMERS = HEALTHIER FINANCE (Less $$ spent on Junk, save "GREEN" on gas, transport of the junk products etc) = HEALTHIER EARTH (Less landfill)= Green = HEALTHIER ME.

    Do the Math with having the power of a consumer... Why not be GREEN to Save GREEN because of a HEALTHIER YOU and ME???:yahoo: