Sunday, May 09, 2010

An alternate message

After the gluttony of consumption that is Mothers Day, and every other commercialised event, I thought I'd present some other messages to counteract the constant message we hear to buy,buy,buy.

My kids are doing speeches about mulitculturalism, a peaceful planet, kids should be seen and heard etc, so I've been showing them sites and clips about world issues, the environment, and social justice.

I recently showed this clip to my kids. It neatly sums up how the world works (the US government decision that our purpose is to spend spend spend is enlightening), or doesn't. They also have clips here about plastic water bottles (how an necessary industry was created) and about emissions cap and trade (why it won't work).

I also show my kids this. Pictures of a family's food for a week, around the world. Interesting comparing the amounts, how much plastic wrapping, how much soft drink, and how much fresh fruit and vegetables. Also, how many people constitute a family. I'm trying to stay in the habit of comparing down (comparing what I have with what poorer people have) rather than comparing up (comparing what I have with what richer people have) and being grateful, due to sheer luck of birth, to be born here.,29307,1626519_1373664,00.html

I find this inspiring in terms of refashioning garments (not to mention creative fundraising). We could just use what we already have, and be creative while we're at it.

And Adbusters, who started buy Nothing Day, usually have something interesting going on.

Good news in the newspaper today in the Business section - advice on how consumer thinking is changing. This is promising. Maybe the world is changing. Just very slowly. Actually the article could be read as a book review - Fairnington is John Fairnington who wrote The Age of Selfish Altruism: Why New Values are Killing Consumerism.

Do the right thing: how to sell to the post-consumer

Join the experience economy

Consider the ageing "grey wave" population. Research suggests that, as people age, they apply deeper criteria to shopping decisions, weighing up what purchases mean. Older people choose lifestyle over materialism, lasting value over excitement and quality over fashion. The ageing boomers' choices may be setting or amplifying trends. So, for the entrepreneur, selling experiences instead of products is a wise move, according to Fairnington.

Tick the diligence boxes

Before committing to the guilty thrill of a purchase, enlightened consumers will ask four key questions that you must address, according to Fairnington. Do I really need it? Does it work perfectly and meet my needs? Is it worth the money? Does it do no harm?

Go root-and-branch green

A study by the marketing network firm JWT found that Australians are increasingly environment-minded but wary of "greenwashing" (fake sustainability claims). So small businesses must prove their sustainability or lose clients, Fairnington writes. For instance, if you "use" a tree, replace it. If you issue emissions, offset.

Skip the bling

Should you successfully court the ethical consumer and grow rich, learn from Asia. There, the Confucian ethic demands humility despite success, and the look of simple living despite great wealth. "When I lived in Taiwan," Fairnington writes, "my landlord, Mr Cheng, wore tattered pants, a rather smelly old zip-up windcheater, and a weathered baseball cap. He rode a rusty old motorbike, and frankly, looked a bit like a tramp. I later discovered that he not only owned all the houses on the street, but several office buildings."

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