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a grain of salt people a grain of salt

Monday. 12. 22. 2008.

I saw this on the Ekoguide ASFALTBLOMMAN till Stockholm och webben. It’s an ecological guide to Stockholm and the web. There are links to where you can find organic cotton shirts, what kind of housing is most environmentally friendly, etc.

For those who don’t understand Swedish: the lady behind the counter is asking the “customers” if they want to throw the item out here or by themselves. The boy at the end wants to keep his bike but his mother and the lady convince him that he should let his bike go because he will get a better new bike. (My parents bought me a new bike after my brakes failed and I went tumbling down a hill of weeds. They figured that the bike was no longer safe.)

Although the video does bring up a good point. Adbusters have been pushing the idea of getting people not to buy things for years.

Here’s a video I recently saw on Adbusters:

Now… I understand and agree that today’s society is overly focused on consumption. Frankly a lot of people in my generation doesn’t even know what Christmas is about. It is pretty ridiculous if you think about it because in people’s mind, here’s a day where we HAVE TO buy something for the people we love. If we don’t buy them something grand and extravagant, well then, that means you obviously do not love them. BULLSHIT!

There are families that almost stipulates that they MUST get something for each other. Is the gift of my presence not enough?

Valentines Day is another prime example that the true, originaly meaning has gone RIGHT OUT THE WINDOW. Valentines Day is about expressing love towards the one you love, now it’s about spending $50 on long stem roses that could be purchased for $20 on any other day and teddy bears that collect dust. Fredrik sent me a bunch of flowers on Valentines Day one year and as much as I appreciated him sending me flowers, I told him to give me a plant next time instead because at least a plant will continue growing. As I remarked to my friend on Friday, “We’re expressing our love by sending dead plant sex organs to each other??”

Anyways. As much as I agree that society needs to change their views towards spending, I think that people must also take this message with a grain of salt.

I don’t think people should spend nothing all together but in moderation. Here’s a message from the big bad economists and our mind controlling governments: “You need to consume otherwise the system will collapse.” I don’t mean consume like buy so much stuff that you wind up in thousands of dollars in debt and buying all the stuff you frankly do not need. But you have to admit that we do need to consume just a little bit. I have friends who work in retail and if people don’t buy stuff from their stores, they will be out of jobs. Don’t tell me that it’s a lie that “big brother” wants us to believe because it’s a fact. Stores that don’t have customers close and their employees become unemployed. What I’m saying is spend wisely.

I must also point out that the blame does not fall entirely on us as consumers but also on the producers. I have a Bernina from the 60’s and to be honest I think this machine will outlast a lot of the new fancy plastic machines that are produced nowadays. Producers have put less effort into making things more durable and lasting because they want you to buy the latest model. That’s just wrong. People used to wear their clothes until one can mend it no more. Now you’re lucky to buy a decently made article of clothing without handing over your liver for it. We as consumers need to demand better quality from producers. We can’t always be penny pinching and sometimes it is worth paying a little more for better.

My parents for example will buy groceries from the cheapest grocery store. They don’t care if the tomatoes they buy taste like water or that the meat they buy is pumped full of hormones. The point is that they’re saving money. They also come from a generation that experienced proverty and hunger. My mom’s favourite story about my aunt is when they had to hide the apples in the cupboards because my aunt would’ve eaten them all before the rest of the family got to have some and apples were apparently quite the treat when she grew up in China in the 70’s.

Fredrik and I on the other hand would rather consume less. We try to buy organic milk and eggs, we’d like to make the change to organic/free range meat but at the moment the price difference is just too high. We try to eat little meat anyways because the prices are pretty high here in Sweden not to mention it’s better for us to eat less meat. We’d rather pay a bit more for the best quality and just have a little bit of it. I usually use canned tomatoes in the winter because fresh ones cost more and taste like water. We try our best to take notice of how we consume.

I’ve given up trying to lecture my mom on making the decision between better quality vs. price. But there are times that I have shown her that it can be worth it to pay a bit more for something that will last longer. For example, she used to buy these attachments for the kitchen tap from the dollar store, except that they would break every couple of months. I went out and bought a well made one for $20. I bought it more than 2 years ago and it still works without any problems. When she first learned about the price, she said, “I could buy one from the dollar store for $1!” Then I explained to her that even after the 20th one from the dollar store she would still need to keep buying new ones to replace the one that broke after a few months. In the long run it’s cheaper to just get a better made one. Not to mention  that the good one was made in Canada. That’s supporting our country’s products. Although if you think about it, it’s pretty crazy that it’s cheaper to get the attachment made in China and ship over to Canada, pay toll and what not than to have one made in Canada. But that’s a whole other thing. We can discuss that later.

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