Saturday, 23 January 2016

Peak stuff >>> peak home furnishings >>> peak meat-balls

This blog has looked at how a lot of stuff seems to be about to peak.

Even with oil prices plummeting, the idea of 'peak oil' is by no means over:
Futures Forum: Making the most of cheap oil

In fact, everything seems to be 'peaking':
Futures Forum: Peak oil, peak soil, peak water... peak everything
Blog | Peak Prosperity
Peak planet: Are we starting to consume less? | New Scientist

And now the focus is on 'stuff':
Futures Forum: The Story of Stuff: "You cannot run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely"

A clip and a quote from the satirical movie 'Fight Club' makes the point clear:

"What kind of dining set defines me as a person?"


fight club ikea - YouTube
Fight Club Ikea Catalogue Scene — Critical Commons
Fight Club and the IKEA Personality | Reel 3
David Fincher – Fight Club (Ikea Porn) | Genius
The IKEA catalog scene from ‘Fight Club’ is now a real thing - The Washington Post

It seems that IKEA have caught up with Fight Club:
Ikea senses room to grow amid ‘peak stuff’ - FT.com
Did Ikea just admit to peak stuff? | Make Wealth History
Ikea-Manager: Wir haben genug sinnloses Zeug gekauft - manager magazin
How to tell if you've reached 'Peak Home Furnishings'

This is a nice summary from the NEF:

Is IKEA right about us owning too much stuff?


You may have heard about peak oil and peak emissions, but this week someone coined a new term for the 21st Century dictionary: peak home furnishings. The somewhat unlikely creator was furniture giant IKEA’s sustainability chief, Steve Howard, during a debate on business and climate change.
The Daily Mail said this novel sales approach might be IKEA’s Ratner Moment, a nod to jewellery boss Gerald Ratner who cost his firm millions when he called its products ”crap”.
But, speaking in the same debate, Caroline Lucas MP suggested IKEA’s anti-consumerist message was a welcome addition to discussions about what actually makes us happy. Citing NEF’s work, she argued that beyond a certain level material consumption is not adding to our happiness – as much evidence shows.
Growth above all else
GDP growth has come to be treated as shorthand for overall success, not just as an indicator of how well our government is performing on economic issues.
This has created a strong incentive for policy makers to pursue short-term economic growth over and above all other goals. Just look at the tax breaks for fossil fuel exploration and reductions in renewable energy subsidies, or how growth based on debt-fuelled private consumption has been prioritised.
It seems like the rationale for growth in the first place – to improve people’s lives – has been forgotten.
Measure what you treasure
Things in the UK could look quite different if politicians and businesses prioritised what the public tells us really matters.
Based around their clear and consistent priorities, we’ve set out five headline measures of national success for the UK. Our aim is to re-align government policies with what evidence has shown we want our economy to deliver.
Adopting these indicators – which capture performance on Good Jobs, Wellbeing, Environment, Fairness and Health – will provide a clear picture of the UK’s social and economic performance.
It will also pave the way for a smarter, more coherent approach to policy-making that is orientated around the needs of the individuals, communities and businesses that it should serve.
What next?
With the backing of 25 organisations from civil society and the business world, we’ve called on the ONS to adopt and refine these new headline indicators, and give them highest priority in their schedule of regular data releases.
In reality, IKEA’s aim to double their sales by 2020 isn’t going to help us avoid peak home furnishings.
But with big businesses constantly making headlines for the wrong reasons, it’s good to see them engaging in vital debates on our shared future. IKEA has promised to adopt a series of positive changes by 2020, such as investing £755m in renewable energy for poorer communities and using clean energy to power its stores and factories, and will pay workers a Living Wage by April.

Is IKEA right about us owning too much stuff? | New Economics Foundation

Although here's a slightly more sardonic view:

Peak Stuff is Coming! Get out and buy before it’s too late!

This week, Swedish plywood exporter IKEA announced that Western society has “probably hit peak stuff” — meaning our consumerism has crammed our houses with enough crap to last us for a while. We’ve hit the upper bound on buying stuff and, as a result, the retailer was going to start providing repair and recycling services at its locations. The announcement was similar to Patagonia’s last summer, when the outdoor gear maker clarified their garments are more expensive because they’re made to last. To prove this point, they kicked off a nationwide tour where a hipster-mobile made stops in cities like Austin and Portland to fix zippers and patch tears.
Note: Estimates suggest somewhere between 50-65% of the author’s kingdom of crap is comprised of Patagonia and IKEA products and he previously drove a hybrid. But, this isn’t about him.

It’s a clever strategy. Companies like IKEA and Patagonia obviously rely on sales, so encouraging repairs instead of new purchases seems counterintuitive (or as they’d have it selfless and genuine). Anti-consumerism is rising in American culture now and these companies are putting their profits aside to embrace it as well, right?

In truth, it’s a false gesture that exposes the hypocrisy of companies who claim a sustainability mantle while also lining their pockets with ex-trees. It is meant to encourage the oxymoronic anti-consumerist consumers to “invest” in their products one last time because the companies will help make it last forever. These people make these purchases telling themselves that it isn’t consumerism but a long-term investment against it.

“But are you less or more likely to buy something once you have been told not to buy it?”

“I think I’m more likely to buy it.”


“Because it feels like it’s against consumerism in some way.”
PBS Newshour, 20 Aug 15

Patagonia’s repair vehicle. Bet you pictured something far less hipster than this.

Even if the consumers are in denial, it is in fact consumerism. The real reasons people replace clothing and furniture have little to do with the product’s life, and more with changes in the consumer’s taste or needs. People buy IKEA furniture precisely because it’s cheap and disposable. To a couple just moving in together, investing in an heirloom quality mahogany (or even any solid wood) bedroom set is a huge step in their budding relationship and beyond their budget. People buy the latest Patagonia jacket because they convince themselves it looks cooler or they need the new expeditionary-level textile technology for their morning excursions with the dog.

It is true that Peak Stuff is looming on the horizon of the collective consciousness. Books like Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and the less subtle TV show Hoarders, beg us to cast a critical eye over our kingdoms of crap. It’s clear that the clever marketers at IKEA and Patagonia have figured out how to harness that sentiment much like hybrid car makers harnessed environmentalism in the early 2000s. Donning your brand-new $350 Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody and hopping into your hybrid Suburban that gets 15MPG instead of 10 to pick up your “forever” dresser made of wood laminate isn’t fooling anyone. But at least the companies gave you the talking points to try anyway.

Tim Snyder

January 20, 2016

Peak Stuff is Coming! Get out and buy before it's too late! | French Press Theory

No comments: