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Archive for the ‘consumerism’ Category

Alright, here’s a bunch of videos for your viewing pleasure.  With the passing of black friday, and people being killed to buy things, I found it appropriate to continue with the consumerism theme.

The first is Chris Jordan talking about his art.  I already posted something on Chris Jordan but I just found it interesting to hear him talk about his work.

The next one is a kind of creepy video.  It’s not fantastic, but I think it is important to show consumerism’s effect on people as a drug.  It is an addiction that destroys oneself and has taken away our focus from the things that we need and find important in life.  I do think we need to value simplicity.  Sure, it is difficult to sometimes see the connections between consuming and the effects of “globalization” institutions and policies, but it is all linked.  I think we need to start focusing on food, and other necessities and work from there.  If we structure our lives and society around that, perhaps our views on goods and trade would change.

This last one I found really interesting.  As our resources for information increases we still are not all that informed.  We are being fed “information” particularly from corporations and resources with agendas for profit.  There is one part that talks about children getting more information from entities whose goal is to sell them something more than from schools or houses of worship.  We are in a downward spiral that focuses on the self while defeating self-esteem.  Corporations have redefined beauty to be corporate.


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I’ve always liked the Buy Nothing Day campaign that adbuster’s started.  Instead of going out and celebrating black Friday in the traditional way, spend that time with your family and friends.  It’s probably a good idea with the way the economy is turning anyways.  Simplify the holidays.  Cut up your credit cards.  Instead, cook a good meal with people you enjoy being around.

I found a couple good articles.  One was on adbusters about the credit crisis.  We need to be focusing on “real wealth,” or wealth in education, health, food, shelter, etc. not investing in bad debt. These investments are not real.  I think we do need to start redefining wealth, and not until we figure that out will we be able to deal with the “triple crisis.”

Another article I found was on zmag by Vandana Shiva.  I really like her critiques on biofuel.  I think we need to start realizing that biofuel is not as economical or environmentally-friendly as we’d like to believe.  We are deforesting land to grow crops to feed the same unhealthy addiction to cars.  The crises of food, climate, and finances are all very closely linked and hopefully this is better understand with the current financial crisis.

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I found these sweet charts searching for images on the internet.  Professor Phil Howard at Michigan State University has made the links between big multi-national corporate giants to organic brands.  Some of these links I knew about, but some companies that I thought were small and privately owned are actually supporting corporations like Hershey (sorry Dagoba).  Although the green movement is growing for organic food, it isn’t always the vision of the small farm of a local family that is growing that organic produce or products that you consume in the store.

The real focus must be on supporting local food.  This is the greatest way we can make our voice heard in making food just.  By supporting local small farms, the idea of industrial food production is challenged.  Eating in season, going to the farmer’s market, making foods from scratch, taking the time to can and process fruits and vegetables when they are in season, etc are all things that not only will help the local community, but people around the globe.  This ends our dependence on foods from other countries where we are, under trade agreements (WTO, NAFTA) and loans (World Bank, Structural Adjustment Programs), making people grow monocultures for export.  This is not a sustainable system.  As Vandana Shiva said, this is “forced trade” not “free trade.”  This export system is depleting local resources for one crop that cannot sustain a healthy diet.  This is a monoculture of both the mind and in actuality as Dr. Shiva so well states.

By supporting organic, you are also standing against GMOs.  Corporations like Cargill and Monsanto have, under the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement of the World Trade Organization, patented life by genetically modifying seeds.  This is biopiracy, forcing farmers to buy and pay fines to these corporations for altering a crop that has had both historical and spiritual importance to people of a region.

We would be better off creating trade policies that help small farmers gain land rights to have the ability to grow their own food for their own community.  And for those commodities that we do trade at further distances must be fair trade.  This would end the food wasted with the current system that is in a downward spiral to destroy the land and earth, and the people on it.

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I stumbled across this video as I was searching through Adbuster’s website.  I found it extremely impactful to show side by side a lifestyle that we sometimes forget affects those around the globe.  It is simple to purchase something like our shoes, something we find necessary, without a thought to what went into that process.  The same lifestyle we build for our children and for ourselves, often degrades (directly and indirectly) those families, those children, in some strange sort of opposite way. I find it interesting that economists can argue such things that our foreign investment raises living standards or “lifts all boats.”  How is sweatshop labor justifiable?  How can we, as consumers, or simply as citizens that expect our own rights, keep allowing this?

I think we often forget the impact we have in the world.  I don’t know who to blame…the media, the government, the corporations, ourselves?  It’s a difficult answer because I think it does put responsibility on our own shoulders in some sort of a way.  But how can one even know of this responsibility unless you actually search what globalization causes, and how that links back to our consumer goods, our businesses, our government?  The fact that economists, especially right now, claim that these practices are justifiable, and argue that these myths (globalization lifts all boats, free trade benefits consumers, etc.) shows that they must not be here, right now.

“The race to the bottom,” or the downard spiral of national outbidding for cheap labor, will not end until we  take some kind of responsibility, and part of this means evaluating everything we consume.  I appreciate this video’s simplicity, something I find more impactful sometimes.  To see those comparisons side by side truly shows the widening gap between the rich and poor; the fact that “In 1999, the wealth held by the world’s 475 billionares was greater than the combined income of the poorest half of all the people in the world.”(Sarah Anderson, John Cavanagh, Thea Lee-The Field Guide to the Global Economy).  I think this is  something where most people agree on.  Most people would find this intolerable and unjust.  I guess it is easy to forget, or not even know when the picture on the shoebox, or the tag on our clothing does not tell us exactly what went into making that product.

I highly recommend that people check out Adbusters when they have a chance.  It is a sort of journal about our product-obsessed cultures…a “journal of the mental environment.”  There are more videos along with this one if you search through the site.  http://www.adbusters.org.

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