On the 17th of Feb, I Twitted:
“We may have a free trade agreement but we also have free choice as consumers. Therefore I choose to buy Australian grown produce.”
and also Twitted:
“It is the Australian consumer who has the ultimate power to support and protect the Australian farmer and their produce.”
As you can see, consumerism has been on my thoughts for the last couple of weeks – even more than normal after I read Daniel Goleman’s book ‘Ecological Intelligence’.
The question I keep asking myself is “how much damage has been caused by the collective consumer mantra ‘cheaper is best’ “.
If consumers ultimately decide their purchases on what is the cheapest, then I would encourage them (and me) to ask this follow up question “how did they make it so cheap”? Every business is run to make a profit and there is nothing wrong with that (hey I am a business woman). A little accounting knowledge will explain my concerns. If the unit price of an item for sale is reduced, a business will look at their ‘profit and loss statement’ to find ways to offset this cost. Not every ‘offset’ is going to be an issue for the environment but you need to ask yourself as a consumer “were there any corners cut to ensure a healthy company profit?”
Was there toxic waste dumped into landfill or local water ways? Was there emissions released into the air? Were workers treated fairly and was there any impact to locals around company factories?
Daniel Goleman writes “Our world of material abundance comes with a hidden price tag. We cannot see the extent to which the things we buy and use daily, have on other kinds of costs – their toll on the planet, on consumer health and on the people whose labour provides us our comforts and necessities.”
For the last four years my husband and I have dramatically reduced the amount of ‘stuff’ we purchase. Before this time, subconsciously we believed that as we worked hard in our careers that we deserved to reward ourselves by buying ‘stuff’. It occurred to me one day that if we didn’t continually reward ourselves then perhaps we wouldn’t need to work so hard. At this point an awareness of another reality was discovered and understood.
If the past business and consumer mantra was ‘cheaper is best’, I believe going forward it will need to be challenged by every individual consumer. May the new mantra be ‘sustainable is better’ and ‘healthier is better’ and also ‘humane is better”.
I wish to thank Daniel Goleman for his insights, inspiration and words of wisdom. I wish for everyone to read “Ecological Intelligence’.