Big Diwali Sale, the Great Indian festival on amazon and so many other such advertisements on different media platforms, persuading people to buy more- consumer electronics, clothes, home appliances, vacations, vehicles, are something that seem very normal to our collective consciousness or at least it has become like that in the last few years!! They tell you to buy Kurta Pyjama because that only gives ‘Diwali wali feel’. They tell you to shop or upgrade your gadgets like phone, laptop, external hard drives, printer with cutting edge technology, camera etc in order to be able to soak in the festivities, or tell you to buy it for your loved ones, as that can only brighten up their feeling of festivities. You have a towering personality like Amitabh Bachchan asking babies and toddlers ‘what’s new' and very subtly suggesting parents to buy all that for their kids with some cleverly framed phrases.
Amidst all this, I am left wondering, are we really as eco conscious as we portray ourselves on social media or it’s just a trend, another facet of the dread of ‘feeling left out’. We perhaps don’t want to be caught dead under the rock, when the rest of the world is talking about banning the ‘plastic straw’ (some trendy stuff which the netizens are talking about with much passion without really being serious about their environment!) and make their profile look ‘cool’ by posting status against plastic use!
Diwali, in particular, gives all these consumer goods companies, e-portals a mega chance to push their sales. Packaged with glitzy advertisements, riding high on star power and cashing on to the aspirational mindset of generation Z, they make ‘shopping’-online or offline- look like an essential activity !!!!
NEW CLOTHES or NEW BURDEN on our environment?
While there is a lot of informed and cognizant talk on reducing carbon footprints, about development with environmental sustainability and accountability towards our immediate surroundings- Aren’t these advertisements and the resultant actions are doing just the opposite! As affluency factor has paved way for more buying capacity for an individual in the country today, isn’t it time that we exercise that privilege responsibly! Unlike earlier times when people bought clothes only during festivals or important family functions like wedding (I do remember vividly that we always and necessarily got new clothes only on Durga Pooja, Diwali and Holi), today it’s all about fast fashion. We buy clothes all year through. Do we even realize, how our environment is taking all this!
According to a feature , written by Radhika Sanghani in The Guardian, (a UK based publication ) a cross-party report has found that people today buy and discard clothes faster than ever, and it means we get rid of more than 1m tonnes of clothes a year which eventually goes to the landfills. The implications of this are so bad that there have been recent claims that the fashion industry can be listed alongside the oil industry as one of the five most polluting industries in the world. Actually, it’s causing more carbon emission than the shipping and aviation industries combined.
Wouldn't it make you think twice before you go for that NEW Kurta Pyjama for Diwali wali feel or buy new dress for your kids just because there are way too many choices at great prices even when they already have more than what they need ! The point is, soon we shall be paying far higher price for all the ‘great prices' that we are being offered. Just so as you know, 10-20,000 litres of water is used in the production of a shirt and a pair of jeans. Now combine this fact with the water shortage in Chennai or elsewhere and the picture shall be complete.
It's imperative that we act responsibly towards the world we live in, a black Friday notwithstanding
NEW GADGETS or MORE STRAIN on our planet?
Probably many of you might have placed order for a bigger screen HDTV or may be a new portable music device, an Alexa or Google home, or may be a new phone with better camera and storage in the Diwali sale. It makes sense in immediate term after all. Technology is getting smarter, smaller, and cheaper at a faster pace than ever before and with sale in the name of ‘celebrating’ Diwali, this feels the best time to go for these. Unfortunately, though, this shopping is usually not need based. We just buy them because WE CAN. We replace our gadgets at least once or twice a year!
In the market driven world, we have almost become addicted to the high that comes with possessing the 'latest'! After all, this is the opium we have been brought up with. Ironically, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has defined consumerism at its worst, as getting people to buy things that don't actually improve their lives!!!!!!!! Could it get more sardonic!
We also forget that enormous amount of raw, often limited, resources are used to make these devices. Moreover, there are intensive levels of energy and work required to design, assemble, package, ship, and deliver them around the world to consumers.
Add to this, the problem of e-waste disposal (a by product of our want to keep upgrading our devices and gadgets at a breakneck speed) and all the unwanted elements destroying our planet. What to we get? A picture that we wouldn’t want to show to the next generation ever!
WHAT’S THE WAY OUT?
I do understand that economy works on consumerism. The more people buy, the better it is for the economy but isn’t there a middle path? I don’t have the answer really! However, I do understand that only need based and sustainable and responsible shopping is the way out. Only a conscious and deliberate changes on our side can bring about the changes.
Let’s celebrate this and the rest of the DIWALIS by REUSING, RECYCLING and finding sustainable alternatives
Let’s celebrate this Diwali in clothes which we haven’t really worn since last Diwali.
Let’s make wearing old but still in good condition clothes fashionable.
Let’s use our electronic devices for as long as possible.
Let's not make up for our absence by presenting unnecessary and not needed gifts to our loved ones.If at all, let's give them something that's eco- friendly.
Let’s stay connected to the nature and our environment .
Copyright © Aradhana Mishra