Cheap Labor + Cheap Prices = Excess Consumption?

There were many things that I learned this week and many things I found fascinating.  The article, “Prices and quantities: unsustainable consumption and the global economy”, really opened my eyes about our large scale of consumption.  The first thing I took notice of in this article was that it suggested that the world passed the point of sustainability in the year 1978.  So according to this article, 12 years before I was even born or could contribute to the ecological footprint, the world was passed this said point of sustainability.  This brings me to believe that we are so far passed the point of sustainability, now 34 years post the year it suggests was the point of sustainability. It also brings up that our current scale of consumption is not sustainable by any means, which I agree with.  The author also suggests that an entirely technological approach will fail.  The other article which we read, “Limiting Consumption” suggested that we need to have a large political movement and for each of us to voluntarily live in a way that is less harmful to the environment.  “Each generation should meet its needs without jeopardizing the prospects of future generations.”

The other information that stuck out to me the most was the wages that were being paid to the workers in China and Bangladesh.  The article said that the average wage for a toy maker in a Chinese factory is between 14-19 cents an hour!!!!! They work about 13-19 hours per day and 7 days a week.  By no means do I have a solution to this problem, but it is incredibly eye opening to how blessed I am and how things like this need to have some kind of solution to become more humane and sustainable.  Because the wages are so low, the total amount of toy units consumed in 2001 was 3.6 billion.  This relates back to the first paragraph because it allows for excess consumption. Another part that stood out to me was that if we assume all the toys are bought by 0-12 year olds, which means that each child gets 69 new toys a year.  It also suggested that this was a conservative estimate.  Continuing with my own math, that means that in the 12 years as a child, they would receive 828 new toys!!!!  I just relate that back to earlier centuries when it is very easy to assume that this was not the case.

Learning all this information is useful because it truly opens my eyes to things I didn’t know were going on.  Having this base knowledge allows for me to expand on it in my own investigation and for me to be more conscience in my daily consumption.  I expect to continue apply this information in the future by choosing to consume less and to promise myself when I have children that they will not be getting 69 new toys a year.  This also makes me interested in the current statistics.  These numbers were for 2001 and it would be very insightful to see how they have changed in the last 11 years.

About creatingalastingimpact

Sustainability and green interior design practices are important issues in interior design today. "Sustainability is not simply how to use and specify green materials and processes, but a holistic endeavor that interrelates the professional, social, regulatory, aesthetic and economic issues that impact people and their environments." Can we have a lasting impact on the world we live in? Of course! This is our time. Our time is now!
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