Problems with Consumption

Our industry revolves around fashion and the ever-changing styles, and I never considered that to be a bad thing, until now. Styles change, what is considered popular changes, and our industry profits from these changes and the public’s desire to constantly upgrade and improve their houses, furniture, and clothes. But what if this desire to constantly update things has a negative effect on the environment? Do I, as a designer, have an obligation to change this constant replacing and upgrading of belongings? As we learned in class this week, there is a fine line between over-consumption and under-consumption, and I think that the area in between is where I fall into play.

Over-consumption creates very real and serious problems. Building demolition, waste, and the use of fossil fuels all have negative affects on the environment. People throw away things that they consider to be outdated even though the may work properly. But is that not a part of fashion? For the most part, designers have a desire for people to feel this way. Part of our job revolves around creating fresh, new looks that people feel like they have to have, which creates a paradigm in our country. We feel like having the best and newest things will make us happier or it will make us feel better about ourselves. But, as we learned from the fashion article on Tuesday, this paradigm creates a wasteful and unnecessary environment in which we live. So what do we do about it? If my job, as a designer, revolves around people spending money and replacing their belongings for what is considered “in style,” how do I help the environment and still make a living? As the article stated, there is a sweet spot for how fast styles should be changing. I think that repurposing and finding ways to make the old look new is a small step towards a balanced lifestyle. And perhaps a change in mindset could help as well. We advertise things in such a way that people feel like they have to have them, but maybe if we change our focus from the consumer to the environment we could make a change. And this change does not necessarily have to come at a cost. I think it would be possible, with a little bit of work, to make a more sustainable, and yet profitable, field. Instead of pushing what is new, maybe we could push the idea of repurposing and reinventing while helping the environment.

While our country tends to focus on the over-consumers because they are the most prevalent in our culture, our field also has to acknowledge that under-consumption can be harmful as well. Manufactures tend to target weak, underdeveloped countries for production because they can make more for less, but that is also destroying the planet. Poor countries and the poor community cannot properly take care of the environment because they lack the proper resources. So do we have an obligation to protect and help those countries? Personally, I think yes. I think, as a more advanced country, we have to help these underdeveloped countries. We need to protect each other, and the environment. I think that, if we invest in these developing nations, then we can make production for sustainable. They lack the resources and money to properly take care of the environment, but we do not. As a developed nation, we can supply these resources. So why are we not? Why do people continue to take advantage or completely ignore these countries? Is making a profit really that much more important than the environment and other humans? Like climate change, I feel like people tend to ignore the true problems. They do not want to see the truth behind their actions, so they simply ignore it. But we will not be able to ignore it forever. These effects will be a force to be reckoned with. As we have seen this past week with Harvey, and as we continue to see with Irma, climate change is real. It is dangerous. And neglecting it will have consequences. We need to stop ignoring the effects our actions have on the planet. We need to stop ignoring what our planet is telling us. And we need to start taking care of one another.

So what can I do? Obviously this topic affects me. Climate change affects everyone in different ways, but this topic also relates to me as a designer. Right now, I am not able to change where people are producing their goods, I am not able to implement a clean system, and I do not have a huge effect on fashion and what people want to buy. So what can I do? As a college student with very little worldly impact, what can I do? I can take small steps towards a bigger picture. Right now, I cannot choose where companies manufacture their goods, but I can start working towards a position like that for the future. I cannot choose what machines companies use or how they aid the countries they work in, but I can research and promote a greener lifestyle. I can affect the world in a much smaller way, but I can affect it nonetheless. I think most importantly, I can change how much I consume. I can choose to not throw away technology and clothes that still work perfectly, just so I can buy the latest materials. If I choose to go against this paradigm, maybe others would too. And, eventually, we might have a cleaner and better world where people consume less and the amount of waste is much more limited.

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One Response to Problems with Consumption

  1. Dr. Joyner Armstrong says:

    An exceptional blog! Way to go!

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