I envision a future where present happiness and future sustainabilty are not at odds with each other. Our society tends to believe that protecting the environment must come at the cost of a good lifestyle. I don't think "sacrificing" these comforts and/or returning to an agricultural society is the goal. Rather, we must take the time to understand how to exist as a part of the environment, rather than as this dominating force that takes. We must evaluate our understanding of what makes us happy and what happiness is. Diamond rings make people happy because they are a symbol of love and commitment, and it's now tradition. But these are things we can change, if we do it together. If one person doesn't buy a diamond ring, they will be seen as inadequate. If thousands don't, then buying rings will be a dying tradition. That's the power we have. Our self-image and worth is so heavily dependent on what we have and lack. Those with money remind us of everything we don't have, and feelings of inadequacy rise, even if our lives are good, motivating us to search for money and things to buy at the cost of the environment. Shifting our priorities from excess to meaningfulness is what we need. Some of this is producer-driven. They want profits, so planned obsalescence occurs or exploitation. However, even their desire for profits would change, if we did not value hot tubs and indoor pools and extravagance as much. What if those who spend their money on excess were viewed differently, rather than revered - would we still want their lives? What we can do right now is repair things, understand the ephemeral nature of trends and dismiss them, and change our actions and even traditions to benefit the environment and ourselves (rather than either or). And... work together. Making these changes together is what will spark change. I already see it in all the posts here. We're all talking about the same thing and desire a very similar future, so we should take steps towards applying it, be it in reducing our daily consumption, striving for jobs that help the environment (or don't encourage consumption), or educating others about consumption and how to lead a meaningful life. Awareness of companies manipulating us to increase our consumption means we don't have to be victims to it, and we don't have to be perpetrators in the destruction of the environment.
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Great post! I like how you emphasized that togetherness is what we need to overcome consumption and shift away from the notion of economic growth and wealth accumulation by the very few. Society is currently falling prey to corporations who compete with one another to end up on top, even if this competition hurts people and the planet.
Hi Vani, it is amazing to see how our visions for a better future are rooted in similar values. Trends and physical entities only hold as much value as humans apply to them. We have as much power to reject them as we do to enforce them, and it is a matter of time that we reconcile the harm of our actions by taking the necessary steps to mobilize others to do the same and save our planet.
I really like the question here, "what if those who spend their money on excess were viewed differently, rather than revered", and I think it poses an answer to @Philip B's question. There is something to be said for the fact that we are social beings and often make decisions based on approval/disapproval signalling from peers. Not buying a diamond ring would surely prompt conversations about why you shouldn't buy a diamond ring, which in turn spreads values. However as Philip noted, there is a lot of variation in the efficacy of that sort of information spread.
I think about flygskam, the swedish word for the shame one gets from the carbon emissions of flying. Even if that isn't a global movement (or the dominant orientation of Swedes towards flying), it likely has changed enough vacation plans to matter. And more broadly it signals to the worlds of business and politics that the public is ready to embrace low carbon transportation alternatives.
Lots and lots of little steps and shares is I guess what I'm thinking about!
Love your message of togetherness! Individual actions don't do very much. Coordinated actions can. My question, albeit a difficult one, is how do you envision this happening? How does an individual's refusal to buy a diamond ring translate into thousands refusing to buy a ring? Why are some movements more effective and others less effective?