Depending on who you ask we either live in an age of rampant consumerism or endless choice -- the answer doesn't necessarily lie in the middle but both are true. The Internet has connected us personally, politically, socially and humanity's consumer nature has built a retail channel unlike any other before.
Interest in green economies, sustainable products and ethical commitments are undeniably growing. But, while consumer awareness for sustainability is rampant, does the talk translate into action? Have conscious consumers actually changed their buying habits to promote sustainability? Not necessarily, it seems.
I almost spit out my coffee the other morning when I stumbled upon this piece by a fellow named Christopher Elliott. In it, he argued that having enough room for your legs on an airplane should be a "human right." One has to be willfully ignorant to not understand that this type of regulation, if adopted, would raise the cost of airline tickets everywhere.
I'm the girl who believes that the planet and its people are more important than a few extra things in my closet but I was not born from a rock hugging trees and growing my own food. I wasn't born an activist -- in fact, I'm non-confrontational, a bit timid and I don't always remember to recycle. And yet, I broke up with fast fashion.
Do you have a list of savings goals you're currently working towards? A running list of things you actually need to buy? Or were your answers impulsive - full of wants that would satisfy you in this moment rather than needs that could help you for awhile? The question sounds innocent enough. But the question is everything that's wrong with the money mindsets being instilled in us.
How much are whiter teeth and smoother skin worth to you? Are they worth the water and fish in the Great Lakes? If you use the myriad other creatures the seas support? If you use personal care products such as exfoliators, body scrubs and toothpastes containing microbeads, those are the costs you could be paying.
Mining is important to human well-being, but the current economic system means it's often aimed at maximizing profit with little regard for people or the environment. It's one area where Canadians can make a difference. Canadian mining companies haven't always had a great record for environmental and social responsibility in communities where they operate -- but public scrutiny and pressure may be helping to change that.
Given that one third of the planet is thinking about "guilt free consumption" any company that fails to address these three areas is missing out on a huge competitive advantage. A wise company will ask themselves how their products are adversely affecting people, nature and the planet and develop initiatives to reduce these effects.
One of the most stressful material burdens we place on ourselves is all the stuff that comes along with success. For me, each pay increase was correlated with an increase in spending. I felt I needed to spend more on goods and services -- dog walkers, food delivery, house cleaning -- to accommodate my ever-more-demanding lifestyle.
While the fantasy surrounding Santa can be a magical experience for a child, how to deal with the consequences of explaining "how a man with infinite resources has left you with less than your peers" can become complicated and send out the wrong message about the child's worth if Santa's yearly rewards don't add up to those of their elementary counterparts.
We're living in an age where everyone with an Internet connection has the ability to become a journalist; to write his or her own critique of a product or service. And if they lack diction or the ability to disseminate their ideas into the digital realm, they can easily connect with someone who can help them articulate, package and market their thoughts.
The world is changing and so is the way we shop: boutiques have closed up and wholesale business for the most part has dropped significantly over the past few years. A new breed of entrepreneurs are cropping up, and they want to do it differently. They're going direct to the customer, cutting out the middleman, and building lean and mean vertical enterprises.
While we might think that the dangers we face come in the form of nuclear proliferation, rampant war-mongering, easy access to weapons, global warming and global financial collapse, we'd be wrong. While all the above are dangerous, to be sure, they're just symptoms of the real dangers we face. The real and growing dangers that immanently threaten our survival are tenfold.
We've all seen those parents in the checkout lines, bribing toddlers with disposable toys for a moment of silent reprieve. Admittedly, we've both made friends with a florist to make up for missed birthdays and forgotten anniversaries. Each of us harbours a bit of consumer guilt. You buy things, you give things. For an instant, all is forgiven. But there is meaning beyond the material. Here's how you can shop without the high.
Why does our economic system place a higher value on disposable and often unnecessary goods than on the things like clean air and productive soil? Sure, there's some contradiction in protesters carrying iPhones while railing against the consumer system. But this is not just about making personal sacrifices