This is my second and final blog post for the World Environment Day blog contest. I’m competing against nine other great bloggers, and I need your votes and support. If you like this post, please vote for me here. Voting is easy and requires no registration. If you want to check out all the top10 blog posts, you’ll find them here.
I come from a land of a thousand lakes, dense forests, and practical problem solving. Actually, Finland’s country brand is pretty much built on our problem solving ability. Lend us your problems, and we’ll solve them with interest, we say. And the world has plenty to offer when it comes to daunting global tasks, such as shifting focus from conspicuous to conscious consumption.
What is conspicuous consumption really? I’m not a sociologist, but I’d say it’s somewhere between wasting 222 million tonnes of food per year and investing crazy amounts of money in brands we believe will shape our soul in the eyes of others.
In affluent Finland, ecological and ethical choices may be tools for social status already, whereas in less affluent Laos, one of the world’s least developed countries where I’ve lived and loved for a year, the bigger the car, the better. If we were able to change the global norm towards conscious consumption, it wouldn’t matter where you are or what stage of development your country is in.
Regardless of my dreams of decent work and education for all, I fear our self-indulgence prevents us from changing our ways until a global crisis forces us all to come together and change. Climate change is a top candidate in this terrifying game of chicken. We are all already witnessing the effects, some people more than others.
And yet, the easiest thing in this world is to ignore, to look away and let someone else take responsibility. But we know that change begins with one person – you.
Before we let ourselves and our fellow citizens all over the world drown in the consequences of climate change, this generation as a whole can turn dreams into reality. That’s where social media, moving the masses, changing legislation, and finally, changing attitudes, come into play.
Complex problem solving squeezed simple: remove options that are heavy with environmental and social baggage from both consumers and producers. How to do that? Change legislation and make sure laws are implemented. How to do that? Create enough political and consumer pressure. How to do that? Make your voice heard, and make sure your friends are loud and share your message. How to do that? Start asking questions.
And suddenly, the fact that a person died of silicosis after sandblasting your jeans for a stylish worn-out look, is simply too much to carry on your hips. The jeans become too difficult to sell, and unacceptable to produce. The rules of the game change, and what once was in the margin, becomes mainstream.
The change I want to see is not only about what you wear or what you eat, but also how your food is produced, how you heat or cool your house, what moves you around and drives you forward.
They say diamonds are forever, but they are not – just like the planet and its living beings are not forever. The only choice we have is to not continue with business as usual.
Practical problem solving in its simplest form? Stop looking away and start asking questions. Demand answers. Ask for yourself, and for those who can’t make their own voices heard. It is your responsibility.
PS. You want to know what I did recently to celebrate a small personal victory? I got myself a fabulous new dress. Necessary? Hardly. Ethical and ecological? Probably not. The change I’m talking about begins with me, too.