We live in the world of clever marketing and controlled consumerism, where products are advertised using flash logo’s and purposely misinterpreted ingredients that have a life limit in order to maintain profit for the manufacturer. This means, in laymans terms, the product isn’t good. But it isn’t bad either. In fact its just good enough to last a “reasonable” amount of time before it needs replacing.
Automobiles are a perfect example of this. Today if you get 200,000km’s out of a car your doing extremely well. This is regardless of how well you look after it. IN fact, your car can still look brand new, but the components in the engine themselves have a time limit. Everything from bearings to seals are designed to fail after a “reasonable” amount of time. Old vehicles, the ones that are now known as “classic cars”, were designed to last. They were made with quality parts, during a time when there was excess off everything. Manufacturers designed components to last, advertising their products as quality workmanship, during a time of competition, when every manufacturer was trying to outdo each other.
Today, a mobile phone will only last a couple of years at best, and thats if you don’t update the software. I updated a phone I’ve had for 3 years and the update killed the phone forcing me to upgrade. The phone was in perfect condition, it worked very well, but the second the update activated, the phone turned off and couldn’t be restarted. I took it to the retailer, and was told the phone was now obsolete. Really !!!?? It was only 3 years old.
I’m still wearing a pair of jeans I bought 8 years ago, shoes 10 years ago. Of course I wear others too. A new pair of sandals bought 3 years ago had the glue on the soles fail and fall apart. The retailer again said shoes should only last at best, two years. This was a very reputable brand that wasn’t cheap.
A lack of fulfilment is built into the whole idea of consumerism, driven by marketing such as commercials, music and even what your favourite celebrity is wearing or carrying in their hand. Its called product placement and its worth billions every year. But in a world where recycling is seen as playing a part in protecting the earth, shouldn’t products be made better ? in a word, Yes.
I go through a pair of work boots a year. They simply fall apart after that. Imagine the cowboys of yesterday only getting a year out of their boots, or their jeans coming apart at the stitches after two years. Imagine if a horse shoe had only 100 miles in it before falling apart. There might be a six shooter being pointed at the shop keeper or blacksmith with a demand of a better product. Today we obviously can’t do that, but happily requires a parting of more money to replace the dodgy item with yet another dodgy product. Thats fair isn’t it ?! According to manufacturers, yes it is.
I can understand that replacement products keep people in work, but where has business ethics gone? Has greed completely taken over?, and is quality now seen as how something looks brand new, how you yourself look with the product, and not how long the product lasts or continues performing ? I guess now more than ever, vanity plays a major role in what we buy as apposed to the functionality and longevity of a product. I drive an old jeep, what does that say about me ?? Ha ha.
I recently bought an item marketed as a “Quality” item. In fact, part of the brand name had the word “Quality” in it. This item lasted half the time a cheaper similar item did. The bigger the brand name, the less likely it is the item will last. Funnily enough, you pay more for big brands with clever marketing for items that don’t last. Have you ever wondered why companies use the words “Natural” when there’s nothing natural in the product, how about “Lean” when its full of sugar and fat. Some products even have pictures of the very forests they are cutting down to make their products with the words “environmentally friendly” stamped all over them. This is all purely a way to make you think that the product is something its not. A friend of mine commented a while back how good she’s been feeling since she started using a brand that had “Sourced locally from natural ingredients” on the wrapper. It turns out the local source imported the ingredients, and there was nothing natural about them except for the water used in the production process.
Use by 04/15/17…. Best before 01/01/17….Expiry Date 04/03/17
A pencil used to last 2 months, a pen half that time, but if you don’t use a pen the ink will eventually dry, rendering it useless. Where’s the logic ?
Now lets talk about expiry dates, that every product (here in Australia) must have. An interesting fact. Honey doesn’t expire. Yet there’s an expiry date on it. Can we really trust these use by/expiry dates ?? Or are they just another example of controlled consumerism ? Have you eaten a slice of bread one day after the use by date ? was it ok ? How about Milk ? I’ve had milk last 3 days after the expiry date, it smelled fine, tasted great, and never curdled when added to my tea. Most people would have been forced to pour it out and go buy another bottle. How many times would this happen in a year ? I worked it out. If I discarded my milk, and replaced it when the expiry dat was up, I would end up purchasing an additional 103 bottles in a year. Thats (at todays milk prices of $1 a litre) $206 extra a year on milk from me alone !!! No wonder the oceans are warming up, there’s to much milk being poured into them !!!
Is consumerism sustainable ?
We live on a planet with a rapidly growing population (6.7 billion people and counting) and a finite set of natural resources for this population to consume. Right now we’ve moved from using about half the planet’s biocapacity in 1961 to over 1.5 times it in 2015. We are already living way beyond the planet’s limits. Somethings got to give !!
This is a really worrying situation, it seems pretty obvious to me that we can’t continue with the ever-increasing levels of consumption demanded by consumerism without major consequences to the environment we live in. This of course will have an impact on economies which rely on consumerism to survive. We really need to reduce our levels of consumption. We have no choice.
Welcome “Green Consumerism”
Green Consumerism has started to become popular buy businesses wanting to reduce their carbon footprint. Having recycling stations for garbage encourages their employees to think about consumerism. Some companies have even gone as far as to create paperless work environments, use recycling paper and even construct their building with materials that are recycled. Power supplied from Solar and water catchment are also becoming popular. Thankfully this is looking to become more mainstream, and even as far as for companies to advertise the fact they are “Green” which makes them popular to like minded consumers.
By consuming less
Its not as easy as you think. We’re bombarded by thousands of various forms of advertising every day, some people every hour. Sometimes we’re not even aware of it.
Its good to take some time to stand back from your life, and away from all the influences and think about what really matters to you in life and how you want to live it. Then, try to live the life you want, not the one that others want you to. This might mean avoiding media, trashy magazines and daytime soap operas.
For most of us, a life of consumerism and constantly striving to gain further material wealth is not the one we would choose. Many of us would find that reducing our levels of consumption, caring less about materialism and refocusing our attention and time towards things that really matter to us will eliminate a lot of problems in our lives and give us a great deal more satisfaction.
What can I do ?
I’ve now personally, started shopping away from major chains, and opted for locally produced products, grown naturally. Im not an alternative person by any stretch of the imagination, but I like to think I’m playing my small part.
Still not sure ? well let me tell you, having grown up on a farm, and being reasonably self sustainable, when it comes to protein, red meat isn’t supposed to be pink, its in fact a reddy brown colour. What makes meat pink in the big chain supermarkets is the food dye and preservative mix. Apparently pink is more appealing to the eye. It sells better when displayed in supermarkets and makes people believe its fresh. Take a look at your local butcher next time you go past. Have a chat, and be informed on the truth.
By shopping this way, I have lost weight, my consumables last longer, and taste better. I now also only buy what I need, for maybe two meals, and shop three times a week, which keeps things fresher, and cuts back on waste. I don’t have a bag of “Dorito’s” in my cupboard, you know the same Dorito’s that make stealing a Ferrari, picking up a cop and a guy dressed as a banana off the side of the road while joyriding OK. I’m also not expecting to grow a pair of wings as I don’t have a can of Red Bull in my refrigerator. Its funny what we’ve been reduced to by the adverts of products. How stupid do they think we are ?!
Here’s a few guidelines for reducing consumerism;
- Don’t buy what you don’t need.
- Be aware of advertising
- You don’t necessarily need what the Jones’s have
- Be aware of ingredients – where they came from.
- Know that your paying for the flash box the product comes in as well as the product
- Have a reason for purchasing
- The bigger the purchase, the longer you should take to think about it
there are many more, these are just a few things I do.
Rant over 🙂