A New Materialism

I came across an interesting article by Ruth Potts with the above title (http://www.thenewmaterialism.org/), which summed up pretty well where we need to be headed as a society to make the transition to a resource-scarce future.  The crucial thing is, that this could be a much better future.  Aren’t we all exhausted with the endless demands on our time, energy and finances that consumerism makes?  In the run up to Christmas, how many of us are taking out loans or maxing out our credit cards to pay for the “pleasure” of giving, and how long will we remain in debt for that brief moment?

Christmas was ruined for me, only a few year’s ago, when I read that the quintessential Father Christmas as we know and love him, was “invented” by Coca Cola in the 1930’s (yes, I have now stopped believing!).  Fortunately, that is not quite true (about Coca Cola), but there is no doubt that the figure of FC has been mercilessly exploited by commercial interests, and this gets worse every year.  In fact, most retail shops now depend upon Christmas to make their yearly sales quotas and profit, so they are not likely to give up the “right” to promote consumerism any time soon.

You may wonder why I write about such things, since my interest really is focussed on vertical and urban greening; actually, my interest is in the survival of the human species and in the retention of a habitable planet, interests we should all have in common.  At the core of our dilemma is not carbon emissions: in our typically linear-thinking, reductionist way, we focus upon these as the problem, when in fact they are a symptom of underlying factors.  The biggest driver in all our systems is the act of consumption.  You can figure out for yourself that there are only so many resources to go around and that the more people you cram into the world, and the more those people demand, the less there is to share out; sooner or later there will be nothing left.  And we are hitting so many tipping points right now, we really should be far more concerned than we are, and should be taking far more action.  Yet to mention it is almost taboo.  We just don’t want to face it; it’s too scary.  And what can we do, the little people?  I would say quite a lot, actually.  As an example, look at how Zara, one of the world’s biggest retail chains, has been forced to commit to producing toxic-free clothing, all within the space of a two-week campaign run by Greenpeace.  That’s powerful.

Fact is, if we want a sustainable future, no; if we want a future, we have to kick the consumption habit, before it consumes us all.  If we don’t, no amount of urban greening will make any difference…

 

December 4th, 2012 by