Picture by Gregoire Cliquet
I have, for a long while, been concerned/frustrated with the obsession by politicians with economic growth. Without focusing on any one political party, the consensus is that growth, at all cost, is what we need, and it can’t come quick enough. However, certainly in the United Kingdom, the source remains abstract at best.
The argument runs that growth is needed to drive down unemployment and to pay off the colossal debt that we have accrued. But how much growth is: (a) realistic to expect; and (b) necessary, when all it is likely to do is fuel consumerism of one shape or another?
I am a passionate believer in sustainability. It’s what I wrote about in 1995, as part of my law degree, and where my own philosophy lies.
We have to accept that if the ‘old days’ were halcyon – i.e. we spent more than we saved! – that those are long behind us, and instead we now need to look to a life of thrift, recycling and sustainability.
Take one thing that I find mind-numbingly depressing – packaging.
How can we sustain:
(1) the over-indulgence with masses of over-designed, over-stylised, over-complex packaging;
(2) the complete absence of re-usability; and
(3) the fact that most of it will still be around, buried in the earth, for at least 1,000 years.
My parents generation had it right. They knew the value of things; and throwing something away was a last resort.
How much of what we buy has a in-built obsolescence? We always seem surprised when we have had something for more than a few years, but really is that the right approach?
Surely, with the limited resources available everything of a non-perishable nature needs to be considered for its ability to last? Take the craze with the iPhone. What is that all about? You text, you phone people, you post to a few social networks and take some pictures. But is all that effort to ramp up our expectation worth it?
Don’t answer that… please.
If we are going to continue to enjoy this planet for a few more years … a few more years …, we have to stop consuming. Just think how much each week you throw away. Just imagine a scenario where what you had right now couldn’t be replaced. How different everything would look.
I recognise of course that families are struggling to make ends meet. But perhaps this is where social media should come into its own. Perhaps we should start using it to mobilise more than just a slew of marketeers all anxious to sell us on something we don’t need. We could look at a platform for swapping or borrowing items, a trade in nearly new, 2nd hand goods or a form of barter.
The future is sustainability, ecology and simplicity. Not growth, and the sooner the political parties are prepared to have that debate the better.