Monday, September 21, 2009

Culture of Consuming

Copenhagen. The place to be this December.

(Did no one tell anyone how fck off cold it gets in Denmark in winter!?! Seriously. I went there once, and I still tremble at the cold memories!)

All the world’s political-wanna-make-my-name-s and activists-without-a-cause will increase their carbon footprints ten-fold and head northwards. All to talk about how the plebs shouldn’t be carbon footprinting and should be fired from their jobs so to break down evil “INDUSTRY” and SAVE THE WORLD. RAAAAAH!!!

They’ll tick tick away on these flimsy laptops and use electronics that they’ll chuck out on the street in 3 years cause the “stuff’ wasn’t made to last. They’ll hand out their uber-glossy pages & pages of advertising/ reports that talk of their own good doings, which no one will read because everyone else is trying to get everyone else to read their uber-glossy words of advertising/ reports. There will be flaunting and speech-masturbating… “oooo my god yes oooo did you see what I said there to show I really mmmmm ooooo know how to save this world mmm yes, me, all one my glorious firework ownsome”.

But it is not the cynicism of the event. It’s just that no one really wants to change our underlying habits. We blame the big “unseeable” things. Create devils out of the unreachable concepts. We purposefully ignore our daily living - Our consuming & desire to consume more & tell others that they should be consuming more too.

It is not the farting cows, necessarily. It is the Culture of Consuming.

That you can buy it cheap, it’s ok. You use it a few times, but when something better comes along, you simply put it on the street corner for “Hard Waste” [Where the newly arrived South Africans rush around late at night picking up all this “stuff” after you cause they are bottom of the consume-chain. Or in the case of South Africa, hand it to your maid & forget about it…]

Life was easy for me in South Africa, when I was employed & had a family to rely on. But life is also SO INSANELY EASY in the Developed World… and I am always struck by this, every time I visit one of these countries:

You want it? You can buy it! Sure, not in the best quality, but then who wants quality, as long as it “shines” until you need it no more.

Clothes. Fridges. Mattresses. Beanbags filled with thousands upon thousands of polystyrene balls (now THAT’s a way to kill off the world’s fish!). Bagels & cookies & footlong turkeys. Some form of transport, cheap, on special. Restaurants’ Best Cuisine. DVD Players - one with every purchase of tyres. Celebrities. Cars. Houses - now all made of plywood & paint. Nom nom nom munch munch munch eat eat eat consume.

A coupla Climate Change Awareness Events in Melboourne this past week had me considering this all. This nonsense. This way we get caught up to “CONSUME”.


In the world of HIV Prevention, the Awareness Advocates are this tiny voice, telling people to condomise and have few sexual partners, against the Global Giant Voice chanting on “Sex sex sex!!!… have sex, enjoy sex, be addicted to sex, dress like you want sex, and the more partners you have & the more adventurous you are, the more of the Wo/Man you are!”

“Fuck The Consequences!”
[Pun very much intended]

The tiny voice of true Climate Change Awareness advocates battles against the Global Media Voice of “Buy Buy Buy. Consume. Glitz Glamour Billboards Gloss. Wear that outfit for one season, it’s ok if it falls apart, it’ll be “out” of fashion by next “season” anyway. Have you burnt your credit card? Have you spent your day in an airconditioned fake-lit jingle-soundtrack mall just spending on items to throw into your wooden wardrobes & cupboards & on your varnished tables and to just hold onto for weeks, occasionally to flaunt to nameless people when you next venture out to visit airconditioned fake-lit jingle-soundtrack malls”.


And that, sure, groups of people in Africa really have more to worry about right now than their consuming habits or whether their industry is “environmentally-friendly”, because the worry is to how even get the industry going. BUT! That is not an excuse for us to not be reminding each other of the small steps to live more sustainably.

Litter less.
Use less electricity (if you have it in your home).
Use less petrol.
Use less water & really try to cut Shower Hour down by many minutes.
Report the water leak. Keep reporting it.
And maybe, just maybe, if you are financially battling to even consider medical aid or next year’s rent money or your kids' meals, maybe you really do not need that costly plastic item.

So, I reckon, the next time I am standing in front of the product wondering “Do I need it”, is to judge the “need” differently. Not whether I have space for it in a cupboard [and I have no cupboards right now, seriously, our clothes are still in their suitcases!], or whether it will satisfy the next social occasion, but whether the money & purchase is worth the Environmental Fee.

Hmm. Maybe I should take this idea to Copenhagen, to join in with the verbal-masturbating sound-polluting cacophony that is looming…!


po said...

The culture of consumption in the UK blows me away. I am not saying wealthy South Africans are amazing, but here it is at a whole new level. I worked on a fruit farm for a few weeks, and when the Brits left, they just left their brand new tents still standing, full of sleeping bags, pots etc, cos they could not be bothered to take them back and could easily buy new ones.

I think there is some level of thriftiness and resourcefulness and don't throw away perfectly good stuff-ness bred into South Africans. But not enough, we also waste too much.

Champagne Heathen said...

I hope you took their tents & stuff & sold it for spare (and needed if it was me!) Sterling!!