“The mantra of capitalist economies is that you can always buy a solution to any problem. Want to make fresh tortillas without getting your hands dirty? There’s an appliance for that. Lonely? Buy a lifelike “companion.” Need to escape coworkers? How about a felt bubble for a modicum of privacy. There’s just too much damn stuff that falls in and out of style and inevitably ends up in landfills.
Enter zakka, a Japanese concept that roughly translates to “miscellaneous things” but—as with other imported lifestyle trends like the Danish concept of hygge—there is no precise English equivalent. However, it can understood as a celebration of humble, everyday objects that bring its users great satisfaction. Zakka aren’t antiques, they’re not expensive, they’re not flashy; they’re familiar and timeless. A metal tea pot, whisk brooms, glassware, and generic tabletop soy sauce dispensers are examples on view in Zakka: Goods and Things, an exhibition at the Tokyo gallery 21_21 Design Shift through June 5.”
“We might think that most of the carbon emission come from the industrial sector and livestock, but a new study suggests that the real environmental problem is represented by the things we buy. In order to understand what is really driving the impact on our planet we have to look past the obvious primary factors and realize whose needs those things are servicing. Keeping this in mind, researchers arrived to the conclusion that household consumers are (by far) the biggest accountable for this crisis.”
“O consumo exagerado, que anseia sempre o novo e descarta com facilidade quaisquer objetos, é o comportamento que tem predominado na sociedade. Com o aumento da capacidade de produção em nome do lucro, a oferta de produtos de toda ordem se amplia cada vez mais e, no sentido oposto, alguns recursos naturais já dão sinais de esgotamento. Essas são algumas das características do tempo em que vivemos e que os estudiosos têm denominado de Antropoceno. Trata-se de uma era em que a capacidade de intervenção da espécie humana no ambiente recebe o foco das atenções.”
“I talk a lot about reduction. Reducing the number of toys you have, the quantity of cleaning supplies you buy, even the amount of meat you eat. My constant focus on reduction over recycling, upcycling or disposing of waste responsibly is a deliberate one. Put simply, recycling isn’t enough.
Recycling is good, and I’m not here to contradict that. When the options are to either toss a plastic bottle into the recycling bin or into the trash can, you’ll see me shaking my pom-poms for the blue bin. But I’m afraid the black-and-white thinking ends there. Recycling is a complicated business, and not always a pleasant one to boot.
First of all, recycling doesn’t wipe the slate clean. It requires an enormous expenditure of energy and resources, including the monitoring of collection sites, the transportation of recyclables, and the recycling manufacturing process itself.”
“Food waste is one of society’s biggest environmental issues at the moment and there is a genuine passion across the UK to tackle it,” Mike Coup, the supermarket chain’s CEO, told The Guardian. We hope to work with shoppers and householders to find ways of making behavioural change, which is key to long-term success.
To make those changes to behavior, it’s important to understand how people are treating food—in terms of both how much they’re wasting and how much they believe they’re wasting. The survey found that 81 percent of households with four people are under the impression that they toss just over $40 worth of food a month; in reality, it’s about twice as much—the equivalent of 11 entire meals.”
“Those who can, do; those who can’t, mock? That’s the conclusion a team of Ohio State University researchers drew after questioning consumers about the ethical-purchasing practices of those around them. Published in the online edition of the Journal of Consumer Psychology, the study suggests that even though nobody is actively seeking out products made under appalling social or environmental conditions, people who don’t ask too many questions about what they buy tend to ridicule those who do, perceiving them to be more boring and less fashionable.”
“Meet the Pentagonal Mart, a gargantuan, $200 million shopping complex inspired by the US Pentagon, which has the dubious honor of being the largest vacant building in Shanghai. According to the People’s Daily News, the 70-acre mall was completed in 2009 and remains virtually empty to this day, “mainly because of its location and confusing inner structures.” Hmm, minor planning details.
Only in small sections of the shopping mall/business center/human maze will a person occasionally be spotted pushing a lonely shopping cart down an aisle lit by endless fluorescent lights. Canned foods and packaged goods gleam untouched on shelves; museum pieces in an exhibition of superfluous development that needs no signage to explain itself.
If modern society were to collapse under the weight of egregiously unsustainable resource consumption, our dystopian swan song would probably look something like this.”
“Since the 1990s the social sciences have engaged with these issues under the rubric of ‘sustainable consumption and production’, or simply ‘sustainable consumption’. The 1992 ‘Rio Earth Summit’ (UN Conference on Environment and Development) was the watershed for international sustainability policy. The conference called for “a better understanding of the role of consumption and how to bring about more sustainable consumption patterns” (UNCSD, 1992: 4.23). The previous focus of global environmental policy on population growth in the ‘developing world’ was replaced by “sustainable production and consumption” for the global North, and, less well remembered, “sustainable livelihoods” for the global South (UNCSD, 1992).
Over the course of the 1990s the conventional attribution of responsibility for environmental impacts to producers was increasingly supplemented by a focus on the role of consumers. Sustainable consumption became an organizing theme for environmental policy making, especially in Europe, and a legitimate area for social scientific research. The 1994 Oslo Symposium defined sustainable consumption as “the use of goods and services that respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life, while minimising the use of natural resources, toxic materials and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle, so as not to jeopardise the needs of future generations”. While this growing emphasis on consumption can be seen in the context of the growth of post-Fordist consumer society and an increasing cultural emphasis on consumption activities (Welch, 2015), a growing proportion of environmental impacts could be directly or indirectly related to the consumption of private households (Michaelis, 2003).”
“Sustainability is the most pressing political problem of the 21st century, a consequence of climate change, environmental degradation and depletion, and exacerbated by a predicted massive expansion of the world’s population. Patterns of personal and household consumption are also major sources of pressure. The preferred response of incumbent political elites is economic growth and technological innovation; ie business as usual with salvation achieved through ‘cleaner’ or ‘greener’ technologies whose development will return acceptable of profit to capitalist corporations.
Although natural sciences and their technological applications have demonstrated remarkable Promethean powers in the past, one doesn’t have to be a chronic pessimist to anticipate that they will be insufficient. Indeed, governments implicitly admit as much by deeming it necessary to address sustainability as a problem of changing personal and collective behaviour.”
“Consumption. By a strange shift of meaning, this 19th-century word describing a serious and often fatal disease is the same word used now for a way of life focused on material goods. Is it time to bring back its negative, and often deadly, associations into our public discourse?
Consumption as reality and metaphor operates on many levels – personal, communal and economic. Most importantly, it causes profound consequences for the planet and its resources.
The forty-fifth anniversary of Earth Day provides a fitting occasion to think more broadly and deeply about what these patterns of consumption mean for us, our communities, and for planet Earth.”
“As preparation for the UK Government’s ‘Green Deal’ programme a series of trials were undertaken in 2012 to identify the most effective ways to encourage domestic energy savings. One trial focused on the uptake of loft insulation. The usual suspects were identified as ‘barriers to uptake’: attitudinal – to be removed through information; motivational – to be tackled by incentives; inertia – with householders to be prompted by community action groups. Curiously a ‘new’ barrier had been identified for testing: the ‘hassle factor’. The premise was that people with the right attitudes and motivations were held back from acting because of being pressed for time.
Offering a scheme where a local firm would come and clear your loft, removing the hassle for busy homeowners, was seen as the answer. Uptake was poor – and it is not hard to hypothesize why. To have someone come into your home to empty your loft requires a good deal of coordination: someone needs to be home while they do the loft-clearing; lofts would have to be check beforehand as lost family heirlooms could not be recovered later; post-clearance home cleaning would be needed to deal with the dusty aftermath of ‘foot traffic’ through the house. Thus the hassle was unlikely to be perceived to have been removed. The Green Deal has now disappeared from the policy landscape and with it the idea of addressing time pressure (although much important policy work on domestic energy efficiency continues).”
“Há uma escassez da qual não se fala e, no entanto, define nossa era: a falta de atenção. É causada pelo estado de distração permanente que impulsionam os meios de comunicação cada vez mais sofisticados. “Distração produtiva”, é o nome que dá a esse fenômeno o arquiteto italiano Pier Vittorio Aureli (1973) em seu ensaio Menos es suficiente (Gustavo Gili), que acaba de ser traduzido para o espanhol. O livro analisa o espaço mínimo necessário para viver, mas também alerta sobre o perigo que traz a tecnologia ao nos levar a trabalhos sem horário. Este professor de Yale e da Architectural Association de Londres também denuncia os danos causados pelo falso ascetismo de Steve Jobs.”
“Até muito recentemente, quando o convenceram a parar de dirigir por acusa da idade, ele continuava assumindo o volante do seu Volvo 240 ano 1993 (robusto e duradouro), e numa ocasião foi barrado em uma premiação depois de ser visto descendo de um ônibus. No avião, prefere viajar na classe econômica. É do tipo que faz blocos de anotação com folhas usadas de um só lado (as florestas do mundo agradecem!), e já foi visto saindo de restaurantes com envelopinhos de sal e pimenta.
“Acho que não há uma só peça que eu vista que não tenha sido comprada em um brechó de segunda mão. Isso significa que quero dar um bom exemplo”, diz Kamprad
Atualmente, afastou-se da linha de frente, entregando o comando da empresa aos seus filhos (tem quatro). Mas continua deixando sua marca na Ikea. Os funcionários seguem um código de conduta – conhecido como “a Bíblia da Ikea” – que determina, entre outras coisas, que “esbanjar recursos é um pecado mortal” e “um dos maiores males da humanidade”. Pode-se dizer que Kamprad e sua empresa são uma coisa só (o nome Ikea contém as iniciais dele e as do seu lugar de nascimento). Então, da próxima vez que você vir uma estante Billy com um bom preço ou um prato de almôndegas a 12 reais, pense que possivelmente são algo mais do que estratégias de marketing.”