Consume, it’s purely what we do. The average healthy adult human emits around ninety grams of carbon each night during sleep, through carbon dioxide emissions, effectively consuming the oxygen into the blood stream. Healthy adults should also average around two and a half litres of water per day, depending on body mass, physical exercise, and the climate. These, along with many other life dependencies aren’t and shouldn’t be varied for sustaining a healthy life, however many things surrounding the consumption of a community certainly are. The community in this sense may be limited to the household you live in, or as broad as considering ‘community’ at a global scale.
The material value of everyday items lack significance in the society of today. Wasteful contributions to a growing consumption rate, with the addition of population growth shouldn’t be treated so blasé. Companies and governments alike can control the price and availability of necessities and desirables, but without the demand there’s no need for supply. Sure some responsibility can be hand balled to the manufacturer, but in reality the consumer makes the first and the final decision. For most things surrounding the purchase of desirable items in today’s consumption climate, the consumer is also part of the product, the product generated through years of education and stimulation regarding consumables and the value they add to our materialistic lives.
A movement of consideration surrounding the purchases of commodities necessary to maintain a healthy and sustainable way of life is developing, but this change isn’t going to slowly filter through the masses with the certainty of time. A change in living this expansive needs to be embraced by all, and consideration to the bigger picture should be educated and practiced by more than just a handful of willing advocates. Ideally this change would be of instant significance to the world, in lowering emissions through production and land-fill addition at product end of life, however such a drastic transition between ways of life provides too much of a hurdle for one to comprehend, and ultimately instigate. Giving up is a simple yet challenging concept, but the implementation can be done in smaller steps to help ease the transition between good and bad habits. Gradual change is easier to adapt ones way of life around, and is a great way to contribute towards a constructive cause as a ‘global citizen’. Strength to deny ones self of purchases and consumables isn’t usually something achievable without a mindset on change, and this form of advocacy is built on a strong and passionate understanding of the matter, through education covering more than just a singular point of reference or subject topic. The circle of life is significantly more complex than it was merely a couple of hundred years ago. With the industrial revolution came a manufacturing sector even bigger than ever before, slowly destroying niche trades that were once only practiced by the master craftsmen of the time.
Efficiency in material use, and labor price reductions may incur through large scale manufacturing, however sometimes the price we pay for mass produced items isn’t limited to the monetary figure. For instance, factors such as personal touches without doubt add value larger than the worth sum to belongings. This small concept of value has the potential to uproot a whole sector of consumption, beginning at the consumer end.
When we consider “hand made” or craft goods, it’s usually something to steer clear of when buying on a budget, but how does this affect the outcome of our purchases? As with most things made for personal use, their value is appreciated through this use, as does the irreplaceable factors that provide character and uniqueness. This uniqueness is only available as a base level whereby products are custom made, and although this small market has it’s attractions, the movement surrounding this sector is only just appearing to make a comeback. Hand made, personalised, or custom designed goods may cost a premium in the short term, but the possible longevity of the product through it’s working life may be considerably extended. This extension of product life can not only ensure less wasteful consumption through replacement, but add personal and social value through this heritage. Other elements that show value through craft trade may be workmanship and material quality, also adding attraction to an otherwise saturated market with heavily inflated prices on highly advertised goods. Such an extensive knowledge surrounding sustainable design and manufacture has been consolidated, but the implementation to the masses hasn’t filtered through enough to make a considerable impact, to stimulate this necessary change as a world wide solution.
Desirable items may be as simple as a wish, want, need, or even necessity, and the gratification obtained through the purchase or ownership surely brings a form of happiness, but is it a true form of happiness? To be truly happy, or overwhelmed with joy. The price we pay on desirable items, name brands, unnecessary technology, fast food, is all part of modern life. Maybe the high prices of these inflated cost products provide more of this materialistic happiness, regardless of the true value. Working to buy, buying to satisfy, satisfied to live. Wash rinse repeat. As discussed, to change habits as fundamental as this can be implemented in steps to help teach ideas, gradually rather than abruptly. Giving up, the key element of change regarding consumption involves more than just giving one thing up. Maybe a bad habit or harmful addiction, something that wastes precious resources or money, and most times an alternative solution is necessary, but this needs to be carefully designed as to be making a positive overall outcome.
To incorporate good these good life practices, a guide with consideration to consumption may prove a good tactic in tackling the challenge of giving something up, and making a difference. Outlining problems regarding habits concerning topics such as waste or greed, is a vital step, to isolate what it is you can do to make a change. Forming a solution from a known problem then needs to be set as a goal. Something to work towards that is realistic, achievable and constructive proves an honest task and one that can be actively spread inside of your community. Being an advocate for change doesn’t mean protesting, or isolating ones self, merely taking initiative and showing leadership on a global issue (activism). Once a goal is achieved, the healthy life practices need to be set, but not forgotten. Technology is always proving new, more efficient, safer, and healthier ways to live our lives, and turning to design, and science for wealth in education may prove more valuable to us than the products we could otherwise consume. Everyone’s situation is different, and personal factors regarding this topic will vary significantly, however isolating key areas in your life practices will not be difficult! You know what to do, take the plunge! Embrace change.