I just watched the youtube clip storyofstuff where Annie Leonard presents the “economy of materials”. She brings up that we consume way too much junk and that it is not a coincidence but rather a planned out scheme by companies.
Most (if not all) of the points she brings up are old news to me. Not only have I had a lot of this information served during my studies but also from just reading news. Still I am chocked by hearing the facts again, as I am every time. This is perhaps one of the biggest problems with this kind of information, we hear it, feel bad and then three days later we have forgotten about it. This is probably planned by companies/governments as well (conspiracy theory :D). It seems we stop caring about things very fast if we get stimulated to do so.
I also believe that Swedes have some kind of misconception about our part in pollution. When we see storyofstuff many of us probably think “those damn irresponsible Americans!” but we are also consuming way more stuff than we need. I write this just now as I came back from the toilet (tmi!) where I flushed at least four liters of fresh water down to a wastewater treatment plant. This water was pumped here using numerous pumping stations consuming energy and using several miles of pipe and this is just the tip of the iceberg when we talk about reckless consuming (and recycling) when it comes to toilet situations.
I find it interesting that one of the major feelings the companies use to keep our consumption up is envy. We don’t want anyone else to have something we don’t or we will feel bad, at least most people now days do. This “trick” became scary to me the other day when I heard about a Swedish lottery called Postkådlotteriet (I know it’s been around for a long time but I have remained (happily) oblivious too it until just recently). The lottery is based entirely on envy. Too participate in the lottery you send in your name, postal code and of course a rather large sum of money to the lottery. The lottery then draws a postal code or two every month and the ones who live there and have paid their fee receive winnings. The Idea is that no one wants to see their neighbors win money and be left out, so that out of fear that the others might win (rather than wanting to play for excitement) they will pay a monthly subscription to the lottery to be included. My instinct would have told me that this idea would never work but to my great disappointment the concept have been a great success. It’s disturbing to me that we are so easily fooled.
This brings me to what I think is society’s biggest problem today, money and capitalism. Capitalism is what drives society today and its fundamental idea is that we need more, more of everything. Capitalism has us spend our recourses faster and faster to make up for the imaginary recourses that capitalism creates to sustain itself. Did you know that roughly 90% of the money circulation in the world is imaginary? It is. The money doesn’t really exist but have been created by borrowing and lending the same money over and over again. As you might imagine there will be a problem when someone wants to take some of this imaginary money and turn it into something real. If one would ask to take out a large sum of money from the system there is only one way to fulfill their wishes and that is to “create” more money by borrowing money from something that doesn’t exists yet (but will soon! The capitalist will claim). The problems with this system are so many that one could spend years going through them but one of the biggest is that we are spending things we do not have and we are constantly racing to produce more to cover up at least a portion of that we have spent but did not have. This system will of course eventually end in a big crash with big consequences.
Money is a big problem because it helps to keep capitalism alive. Since money these days are just numbers on a screen we can just make up more. If you were trying to sell me sausage that I could clearly see that you did not have I would not agree to a deal but with money things are not so clear. In my opinion we should strive to remove money from our system but I realize that it will be very hard (new ways of trading would have to be developed).
It would seem that a lost the subject a while ago (Just as planned!). I will end my post here to relive you from further suffering.
Thank you for reading!