Saturday, May 7, 2011

I'm One of Those Horrible People ...........a consumer

Just finished an excellent read -- Get Real by Mara Rockliff.  It was the subtitle that caught my eye in the library -- What Kind of World Are You Buying.  I pride myself in trying to be as green as I can, without being fanatical.  My face is more red than green after having finished this book in one sitting.

Rockliff hammers 'free trade' as one of the major downfalls of society.  "Free trade agreements are a major problem too.  The word free makes them sound nice.  Who doesn't want more freedom?  But in reality, these deals only make huge corporations free.  Free to go into poor countries and suck up their natural resources.  Free to hire workers at low wages and then drive them till they drop.  Free to leave behind a terrible environmental mess."

The author certainly does some thought provoking research as she examines the world of consumerism and capitalist greed.  She places the blame for most of our world issues on the avarice of the few multinationals who control our food chain, and most everything else we purchase.  However she hits the individual consumer, square between the eyes as well for our sheep-like qualities of following and swallowing whatever marketing ploy the big boys are currently employing to garner their share of the world market.

Some of the most recent buzzwords that the multinationals have stolen from the moral activists are: green, environmentally friendly, organic, fair trade, and buying locally.  Grass roots movements to educate people, weaning them from environmentally damaging situations, have all espoused these topics.  Obviously people do latch onto some aspects of these ideas (usually those which are free and make us feel warm and fuzzy, and do-gooder inside).  Marketing quickly phishes these ideas, , makes them trendy and tries to make them their own, by attempting to paint a thin veneer of righteousness over the mountains of sins it has actually taken to produce the given product.

Walk into any store now, and everything is ostensibly green.  It's cool to be green.  If I buy a product with any green connotation whatsoever, I can exit the store guilt-free, having made the world a better place to live.

Her big thrust is to carefully examine each purchase we make.  All major purchases need be thoroughly researched.  Think it over for several weeks -- are you making the best possible purchase for the globe, not just your own pocketbook?

Looking back over my week, I bought a new shirt, a pair of dress shoes and a pair of sneakers.  As well the missus and I went out for supper for our anniversary (sorry no gifts - we are trying to get beyond the purchase of 'stuff', just for the sake of giving a gift.) 

Shirt: Dockers brand, 60% cotton, 40% polyester, made in Vietnam.  It says nothing about organically grown cotton, so I am certain it is not.  What made me purchase this particular shirt - it was on sale - probably not the most noble motive after reading this book.

Dress Shoes:  Protocol brand, leather, rubber soled, product of China.  Well I did think about this purchase for quite some time, my old blacks are an embarrassment to wear to school anymore.  But looking back I should probably have seen if there were any Canadian made shoes available.

Sneakers: Adidas, Adiprene, product of Vietnam.  I'm not sure I would even have the option to find Canadian made sneakers.  My decision here, again was the fact they were on sale -- half price and I definitely needed a pair, as my old ones (which were always too small) have lost all semblance of support (and my daughter would say style). 

Supper: local eatery, no ties with any established chain.  This was a wise choice (if eating out is a wise choice, Rockliff says not) as the money all stayed in the community, and our meal consisted of ingredients that could be grown locally with the exception of rice (I'm not saying it was local, but it COULD have been). 

And tonight I am going out to enjoy an evening of locally produced music, by the community choir (of which my wife and daughter are members).  Sounds like this is a community endeavour, but in fact there are at least thirty professional musicians travelling from considerable distances to accompany our local lads and lasses.  So I'm buying locally, but all the travelling vehicles certainly don't qualify it as green or environmentally friendly.  Whether it is fair trade or not I'm not sure:  the singers are all being paid nada, but the professional musicians are certainly receiving their required stipend.  Perhaps I will refer to my ladies, as my sweat-shop girls for the rest of the day.

And that is all I'd better say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

1 comment:

  1. You might want to watch a movie called Food Matters. We are long past the small family owned farm. It is scary what corporations are doing just for a buck and power with no conscience at all toward the everyday person. It is overwhelming, but you do what you can. Each decision makes a difference when all those little decisions are accumulated. Another movie to see to underscore the greed and lack of integrity of fallen man--Inside Job.


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