At first, learning about western society’s rate of consumption and lack of interest, or at least motivation, to stand for change against social problems and environmental issues struck a guilty nerve. I have to admit, and I am sure I am not the only one, that my ‘excuse’ to putting these serious issues to the back of my mind and taking the easy path is due to pure laziness and selfishness. But with this laziness comes ignorance. Finding out the true problems that face the society and environment comes down, ultimately, to how interested a person is in the topic and how passionate they are about changing the future.
My main interests within all of issues this world is facing that I feel must take a positive turn to ensure the best possible outcome for the future of generations to come are issues facing the environment. The class’s first task of researching a topic to make a poster introduced me to a few statistics that shocked me. The amount of waste produced by western society is immense. Learning that has definitely changed the way I purchase food. I now only buy when I know I am going to eat it within the number of days it is eatable to lower the amount of wasted food I will throw away. This has saved me money and made a small but helpful impact on the environment.
The main topic that interested me was that of problems of over fishing – specifically tuna companies that are trawling the oceans to the point of empty. Not only is the rate of tuna in the oceans declining unnaturally fast but the disruption of the ocean’s ecosystems from the large amount of by catch caught in trawler nets. This topic is not something that I would have initially sort to investigate but because of this task I have now taken a great interest in this issue.
When we were asked to give something up that we held dearly or took for granted like coffee or an ingredient that would appear in particular foods or products with excessive packaging to take our own personal stance against an issue my mind ran straight to my favourite pieces of clothing. My rate of consumption of clothing and the money that is spent on it is large. I am guilty of buying overly priced clothing shipped to my front for my convenience straight from Europe. Since starting this course I have taken particular interest in the workings of my favourite labels, where they purchase their material, how this material is manufactured and if it is locally made or exported. Though I have also started taking a great interest in local designers and choosing to the support their companies over others. I’m proud to say that majority of Melbourne designers I am passionate about locally produced their products.
However, in the real world I ,and most people, am unlikely going to enquire before I make a purchase in an ordinary store about the condition the skirt or dress or top undertook to make a position on the rack in front of me and if I did and the response was that of ‘made in … under sweatshop conditions’ unfortunately it would probably not be enough for me to disregard the item and walk away if I found it so appealing and at an affordable price. This is the case with most of the Western world and their narcissistic desires. Though in saying that, large companies, like Zara, that have been exploited for creating massive amounts of damage to the environment from the production of their clothing and other companies for their outrageously poor treatment towards employees I have chosen to strictly not shop there.
The final task built up my knowledge and interest I had in taking care of public parks and community gardens and their importance to society. I have come away with new ideas for possible projects in the future for permanent activities for children and adults to encourage exercising, socializing and enjoying the sunlight. Getting more people out and about to parks means more interest in the improvements that can be made and in turn how parks provide an alternative path to improve and change social and environmental issues.
Overall Change: Advocacy/Activism/Agency has given me an insight into how western society has a whole approaches consumerism with a blind eye and how the environment is only given to the second thought. From this class I have realized how I personally deal with situations and how I can improve them to make the slightest of differences. For Example, lowering my power usage, which brands and companies I support when buying food and products, the amount of waste I create from uneaten food, buying products without excessive packaging and walking when it’s unnecessary to drive. I am glad I chose this class as my first ever Studies class as it has given me a useful tool to take with me and use throughout projects I will encounter in this course and after I graduate.