It is our tradition to do spring cleaning before ushering a New Year. It is a time when we reduce the clutter in our home, items that we do not need anymore. In the past, we donated these items to some charitable organisations so that they could raise funds through jumble sales. Hopefully, somebody can have use of these donated items.
When we brought some items this morning to a shop that collects and sells donated items, we were informed that it is not collecting any more items due to space constraints. It occurred to me that in a consumer society, we are buying more and more things. We chase for the next new things and replacing perfectly functioning items with latest models. We are sometimes forced to abandon a product just because it is outdated and no longer supported by the manufacturer. Repairing items does not make economic sense because a new one can be cheaper in a long run. Our modern society is a throw-away society and repair trade is nearly non-existent.
We find throwing away things, that ends up in a land-fill or incinerated, is a waste of earth’s resources. Recycling has yet to become widespread in our society. We are in this dilemma and what can we do about it?
One idea is to work on the consumers. If the demand for items were reduced, the supply of these items by manufacturers would adjust to lower demand.
Borrow instead of owning
We can borrow things instead of buying them. Some examples include borrowing books/dvds from the public libraries. In time to come, we can be a society where renting is acceptable norm.
Stop chasing fashion
If we can be happy with what we have, be it fashion or gadgets, we can reduce demand for new items.
Create a flourishing repair economy
When we have people in repair industry, we can revive the repairing culture of the past. Things can be repaired for a fee and things need not be thrown away.
Downside to these ideas
For those people in the creative and innovation fields, reduced consumer demands affects their existence. For the sake of this finite earth and for higher purpose, we need to adjust to this downside risk. We can look at a re-balancing of the two opposing forces. Creativity and innovation can be channeled to other areas instead of just purely creating consumer and disposable products.
It is really up to each of us as to where we stand. I stand on the side of less is good enough. It needs not be more and more consumer products.