Friday, 9 February 2018

Can we bring about effective change through our shopping choices - or does consumer choice simply 'further entrench us within the mire of rampant consumerism'?

There are plenty of things we buy which have plenty of negative effects:
Futures Forum: The palm oil in your chocolate
Futures Forum: Coffee shops and politics
Futures Forum: Conflict minerals in your gadgetry > the blood and sweat in phones and batteries
Futures Forum: Are on-line shopping delivery vans creating more pollution?

And there are plenty of creative solutions:
Futures Forum: Bioplastics > and the circular economy
Futures Forum: Right to repair
Futures Forum: Climate change: and taxing meat
Futures Forum: The sharing economy: the shareconomy: collaborative consumption >>> renting or borrowing rather than buying and owning
Futures Forum: Latest upcycling projects and business ideas

Although it's very difficult to break shopping habits:
Futures Forum: "Like so many others, I had become a slave to the Ikea nesting instinct."

One way to deal with 'making choices' is to simply go with price, rather than worry about recycling or whatever:

Economics is the key.

The bottom line is, well, the bottom line. By saving money, we save the resources, labor, energy, and pollution that the money would have otherwise purchased. We should do what makes economic sense and not what just makes us feel good or what seems plausible. Let’s replace the three R’s with the single E: Economics.

What's Wrong with the Three Rs of Environmentalism - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world
Futures Forum: Reduce, reuse, recycle >>> >>> 'What's Wrong with the Three Rs of Environmentalism'

But what happens when the businesses selling us products are not operating according to 'economics'?

Why do we buy what we buy? 

Jacques Peretti investigates consumerism and the people who try and shape the public's appetites

BBC Two - The Men Who Made Us Spend
Futures Forum: Planned Obsolescence: and The Men Who Made Us Spend

And have we gone beyond being merely 'consumers' anyway?

Economic theory generally assumes that more consumption means greater happiness. This post puts forward an alternative, “less is more” perspective based around the concept of mindfulness. It argues that we may achieve greater happiness by seeking to simplify our desires, rather than satisfy them.

Peak stuff? ‘Less is more’ suggests Bank of England
Futures Forum: Peak stuff >>> Are consumers getting tired of consuming?
Futures Forum: Peak stuff >>> peak home furnishings >>> peak meat-balls

Because, let's face it, economics is politics:

Jon Alexander (Twitter: @JonJAlex), founder of the New Citizenship Project (Twitter: @NewCitProj) and PhD in Applied Ethics candidate, explains the importance of appealing to people as Citizens not just Consumers. 

He draws on the direct social psychology findings (e.g. http://www.psychologicalscience.org/i...) and their philosophical implications, together with his experience of working for the National Trust on campaigns like MyFarm and the National Planning Policy Framework. 

He proposes two key points of view: 

1) that the language of the Consumer should be carefully avoided by campaigners 

2) that as a matter of practice, encouraging people to DO something and become involved, not merely transact with you (though possibly both), will be a more fruitful approach for campaigning, helping build the foundations as well as driving immediate action.

From consumers to citizens: reclaiming identity - YouTube
Futures Forum: Citizens or consumers?

But let's get a little more radical:

Kleptomania and the Boundaries of Need-Based Consumerism

Isobel Ducasse | February 6th, 2018

I was recently quite moved by Peter Gelderloos’ article “Veganism: Why Not,” which argues against veganism as a method of resistance, astutely noting the ways in which veganism plays a role in “greening capitalism.” Philosophies such as veganism, Gelderloos argues, are ultimately a consumer-based choice, and therefore only further entrench the participant within the mire of rampant consumerism.

Upon finishing the article, I was struck by the notion that perhaps the best method of effecting change would be to steal one’s food—essentially dropping out of the capitalist sphere completely.

Like any other system of ethical consumption, however, stealing from capitalists comes with moral quandaries of its own...

Center for a Stateless Society » Lessons From My Narcissist Father: Kleptomania and the Boundaries of Need-Based Consumerism

Ultimately, is it all about 'greening capitalism'?

Veganism: Why Not

Peter Gelderloos

It is vital to note that green capitalism is becoming the predominant strategy to allow Capital to survive what may be the biggest crisis it has ever created. Veganism plays a demonstrable role in greening capitalism. 

Every vegan who has ever spouted a statistic about the amount of water used to produce a pound of beef or the amount of methane emitted by the world’s sheep is actively supporting capitalism by participating in a great smoke screen which hides the true nature of how the present economic system actually functions. 

All talk of efficiency is coming out of the mouth of Capital itself. Historically, capitalism has needed an ever growing population, although in the future it may find a way out of this obligation. But for the meantime, capitalists must find a way to feed a larger population on less, and in the wealthy metropolis, veganism provides the perfect solution.

Veganism: Why Not | The Anarchist Library

See also:
'Green capitalism' is a myth - Business Insider
Green Capitalism - P2P Foundation 


Slavoj Zizek: The Delusion of Green Capitalism

Apr 20, 2011

Philosopher Slavoj Zizek argues environmentally conscious consumers are desperate for simple tasks they can perform to alleviate their guilt, so they do things like purchase overpriced organic produce. Zizek also highlights Starbucks, which he suggests attracts customers by appealing to their sense of altruism.

Slavoj Zizek: The Delusion of Green Capitalism - YouTube

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