Saturday, 22 February 2014

Red or Blue?

A documentary I recently watched encouraged me that although I can’t do anything about the environment I have come into, I can help the shift to change the future of it.  Good intentions and positive thoughts will not help this shift.  What is needed at this point is people who action their concern for others.  

A red pill-blue pill situation lies before us.  I can wax lyrical for decades about why we should all take up the challenge of ethical and responsible consumption, but if I don’t make positive consumer choices I am merely a fountain of admirable but empty ideals.  We all begin in the same mess, challenged by the recognition of our consumer selfishness, unsure how to escape it.  It is our response that is the challenge.  The blue pill: Keep calm and carry on.  The red pill: Face reality and choose change.  Begin to move, lean into the challenge, leave slactivism and ignorance behind, embracing social consciousness.  Pair the red pill with action and you will begin to find an ease in momentum.  One decision follows another with increasing velocity, and yesterday’s challenge becomes today’s strength.  This decision to carry the responsibility that awaits us is the catalyst to a greatly rewarding journey.  A journey filled with discovery, in which both beauty and corruption are overturned in equal measures. 

Since accepting the red pill I have discovered the truth about consumer satisfaction.  Consuming products that have cut a swathe of social and environmental destruction on their way to my ownership, results in satisfaction for a moment.  Choosing to purchase sustainable and ethically produced goods, results in the deep and prolonged satisfaction of knowing that my lifestyle enhances someone else’s.  This satisfaction of knowing that I am becoming less of the problem and more of the solution outweighs any extra effort I have invested in finding the right product every time.  Alongside my enjoyment of feeling like I am making an ever clich├ęd ‘difference in this world’, I find myself with less useless crap and more money. Win-win!  I chose and continue to choose the red pill because I see through blue’s shallow deception. 

Many of you have asked for a genesis point, so at the risk of over simplifying the global issue of compulsive consumption, I hand you these ideas as encouragement that guilt free consumption is immediately practicable:

  • Buy second hand!  Surely it can’t be that easy?  In buying products second hand you refuse to support the companies who use exploitation to make a profit, instead supporting local businesses or charities.  You also reduce, reuse and recycle items that would otherwise go into the landfill and you get a bargain to boot.  It’s cheaper, it’s great for the planet, and it’s guilt free.
  • Buy local or grow your own food.  Buy things when they are in season and preserve them for later, or just go without when they are out of season.  This supports your nation’s economy, and (depending on where you live) can almost ensure that the workers who were involved in the production process were not exploited.  Many imported foods have a brutal backstory when you look into the production practices associated with them, so by choosing to search out local producers and do some brand research, you can often find products that are more ethically produced and prepared.
  • Buy from producers who have received an independent certification such as the Fairtrade International certification (FLO CERT) to give your money the best chance possible of getting right back down the production line.  Please don’t just accept a company’s claim that their products are ethically produced without asking some further questions.  This is where google comes in handy. 
  • Talk to local companies that you are considering buying from about the steps they have taken to ensure that their product is made in a way that reduces impact on both the environment and vulnerable people groups in their supply chain.  Beware of companies who strongly promote their reduced negative environmental impact but neglect to mention anything about their humanitarian responsibilities.
  • Buy less!  Take control of your spending and learn how much you can live without.
So which will it be?  Remain in a reality fabricated by companies who aspire to manipulate you into relationship with them, or unplug from the illusion and carry your responsibility?