I’m aware that there are some problems that need to be addressed for the suggestion I made to be a plausible alternative:
It is hard to convince companies to switch their production to a sustainable one. Stricter laws on production would be required – not an easy task.
A change of consumption attitude is still needed. Buy what you actually need and will use, not just for the sake of buying something new.
Big business is often equal to exploiting people, animals and resources. This can only be changed by buying from companies which pay their workers fairly, treat animals in a proper way and make sure to use resources wisely. This means you as a consumer need to be better informed.
Show businesses that it can be possible to market upgrades of products, rather than new products constantly.
Some items in our modern world require scarce resources in the production. Re-design and new inventions are needed to limit that.
In my opinion the ideal would be that people would start buying things produced in such a way that they are worth repairing and keeping. That requires an attitude change and also that people step back and think in a longer perspective. When you want something NOW you tend to buy the cheaper copy of the real thing, just to have it – many times to show off status. People will still have a wish for status. It’s actually one of the main reasons as to why we are where we are today when it comes to over consumption. I’m not 100% sure what can be done against it more than trying to find new role models that don’t base their lives on endless shopping of needless things.
I’ll give you some insights to how I think about consumption myself:
First of all; I’m not living 100% to my ideals – but I try to be aware of my impact. We do have a car in the household, but personally I don’t use it much. It’s needed to get to work since we live in the countryside and connections aren’t good enough here. Cars are and will be needed for many parts of the economy to work, but as written in the first article, hopefully there will be alternatives on the market in a few years that are a lot more efficient and environmentally friendly.
At home we buy ecologically produced vegetables which we get delivered to our doorstep once a week from Biohof Braun. It’s practical and it limits the transportation since a large part of what we buy is locally produced on their own farm. The quality is a hell of a lot better than the supermarket and I try to use every bit of it since it’s a little bit more expensive (not so much actually). I hate throwing away food! I read statistics from the local environmental authorities here in Germany that the average household throws away 5 kg (!) of food – every week! That’s something completely foreign to me. If you plan what you will eat every day you won’t buy things you don’t need to the same extent. It’s an excellent way to save some money too!
In the supermarket I try to choose the ecological alternative when available. Eggs we buy from a local producer and same thing with honey. When it comes to meat and fish we still need to improve where we buy it from and how it has been produced.
Clothing I mainly buy second hand. I am a master of finding good quality second hand garments which have been used very little. This comes from other people’s over-consumption, that I’m aware of. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than me buying sweat shop produced garments that fall apart after a short while.
I have set up as a goal for myself to buy clothing and other items of a better quality since I have a quite consistent style. I dress more or less the same as I have been doing the last 15 years – a combination of punk/metal and posh upper class – yes I have the right to be as contradictory as I want to. What angers me the most is when I have to get rid of an item that I truly adore because it’s worn out, so I rather invest in quality and items that can be repaired.
I make clothing and other items on my own – both because it gives me satisfaction and because I know they will last. I have shirts that I did in 2001 that I’m still wearing as good as every week!
I have split feelings when it comes to consumerism. I appreciate having nice possessions, but I don’t understand running around for hours shopping for fun. Also, I tend to invest in goods that I can use for an active purpose, to make something of my own or be active in other ways, to learn from etc. That’s what gives me satisfaction.
Now, I would like to hear what you have to say about all this? How do you consume? What do you think about my theories on continued consumption, if the consumed goods are produced in 100% sustainable ways?