I should warn you perhaps that a few people may be grossed out by some of the thoughts expressed in this article.
As a regular signer of online petitions, mostly via the petition site, avaaz and change.org, I also receive newsletters from all three of those organizations regarding alerts for new petitions and also the thoughts of various of their regular bloggers. One topic recently touched on, was the freegan lifestyle, particularly with regards to the eating of roadkill.
For those not familiar with the movement, freeganism embraces the concept of using resources gained through salvage, rather than economic activity. Freegans have no qualms about scraping plates, diving dumpsters, squatting or the creation of guerilla gardens. Although there are some health concerns about eating food gained in this way, these are sometimes balanced by the problems created through consumerism. For example, the growth hormones present in commercially produced meat are said to be a factor in causing cancer. Often supermarkets and food retailers reject perfectly suitable food only because it fails to meet standards regarding size or color.
Even if you do not agree with any of their strategies, take note of the economic problems inherrent in our consumer society that they point out:
- about TEN years ago, I attended a workshop at the premises of our national broadcaster. One announcer pointed out that afterwards that a row of houses situated at the back of their Cape premises have been vacated to be sold off as assets, but that this had, due to administrational mismanagement not yet been done. That was in 2001. Recently, those houses, located in a prime real estate area of Cape Town's Atlantic seaboard, were still empty, showing broken windows and general neglect. All due to corporate mismanagement.
- Recently, a customer to an upmarket clothing retailer in the States discovered that clothing she returned unused, was destroyed before her eyes, rather than being returned to the shelves for resale or donated to charity. With so many people in need, throwing away goods because of company policy should be unacceptable
- About five years ago I worked for a restaurant delivery company and during that time, they engaged in a marketing campaign with the diary company. I witnessed masses of milk products being thrown away on the whims of the bosses. Much later, the true reason behind the campaign became clearer when the company in question was implicated in a 'price-fixing' scheme which involved the artificial manipulation of available milk supplies.
The truth of the matter is, consumerism creates a lot of waste. Take the short life span of the average CD or DVD player, for example. A lot of non-biodegradable garbage is being generated for the sake of meeting sales figures and profits.
We are not always aware of this undeclared war between the 'sellers' and the 'buyers'of this world, although we are its foot soldiers. The world is divided between those who need and those who waste and the real challenge for all humanity should be the building of bridges in between the two. The recent earthquake disaster in Japan should have demonstrated to anyone how easy it is to slip from the latter group to the former one.