The Western world is over saturated with trans fats, inauthenticity, and human waste. We’re overwhelmed by new products, by shiny advertising, and promises of the next best thing. We’re constantly looking ahead, not towards the future, but at the new products on the horizon. And in the process we lose the aura of what makes something special to begin with.
Let’s use an iPhone as an example. What does it do? It lets us connect to the internet, it allows us to contact friends and family, and it makes our digital lives easier to manage. But that’s not why we buy an iPhone, that’s not why we upgrade to the next model when the one we have is still perfectly acceptable – we buy into the image, the way that the product defines us, and we believe in the intrinsic value of the next best thing.
I don’t think anyone truly loves their tech products, their fancy new smart TV, or their swish expensive car. They’re tools that add functionality to our lives, they make getting places easier, they make our TV shows look better, but they come at a cost. It’s an intangible cost, but it’s a cost all the same.
We know that these products are often manufactured by people working in slave like conditions, and we know that this speaks volumes about Western consumerism and its influence on the world. But we like the convenience; we put the problems, and complexities of mass production to the back of our minds. We don’t like the true story behind the products we use, so we ignore it.
We could of course opt out, and we could choose to buy products that are manufactured sustainably. There are plenty of artisan makers and creatives out there, and they’re far more worthy of support than behemothic institutions and companies. We could exert a positive influence on the world by purchasing goods and services that come from real people, that have stories and narratives that we believe in.
At every point we can make that choice. From ethically sourced coffee, to handmade furniture, but it’s harder, it doesn’t suit the style of living that we’re sold, and are accustomed to. We live fast paced lives, but we could slow down, we could be mindful.
The world needs less manufacturing, it needs more ethical people, products, and services. We need to simplify our way of life. We must aim for something better. Our impact on the world is negative. (This year is the first year that we consumed more than we produced.)
Be responsible, and change the world one meal at a time. Forget McDonalds, Apple, and Amazon. Choose small businesses, pick creative and original products over mass produced ones and rekindle your connection with the objects you use. Select handcrafted objects that reflect who you are, and leave a legacy that you can be proud of.