Posted by keith on December 23rd, 2008
I won’t be posting for a while because of Christmas; we have people to see, fun to have and just a few presents to give – the vast majority of them either second hand or handmade, because I really can’t bear to buy new stuff any more – when you have been writing about hypocrites for so long it becomes almost a physical impossibility to be one yourself.
It wasn’t always that way, and I am not ashamed to say that I was once a consumer; I used to do Christmas shopping with relish, and take great pleasure in wrapping and stacking all sorts of fancy new stuff under the tree, and far beyond it. It took the cathartic experience of writing an article called “The Problem With…Christmas” a couple of years ago to shake me out of the consumer mindset and realise that the “need” to shop, especially in November and December, was simply a system-led exercise in corporate brainwashing, eagerly followed by the hive mind of the Behemoth Consumer. Take a look at the illustration on Hobbes seminal (but horribly flawed) work “Leviathan”, and imagine the body politik constructed of television sets, electronic games, perfume, DVDs and kitchen gadgets and you have a fairly good impression of our new “consumer politik”.
The Emma Maersk – a 45,000 tonne container ship from China, renamed the “SS Santa” in honour of its mission – arrived in the UK on 4 November 2006, loaded with thousands of shipping containers full of toys, books and computers. A Chinese Online News service managed to obtain an oddly wistful quote from an English bystander : “It’s like a dream to see such a mountain-like ship floating on the sea, and all the more incredible to learn that the ship is bringing Europeans with Christmas made mainly in China,” which sounded more like a quotation from a Chinese Government press release. 3,000 of these containers were unloaded and the toys, books and computers distributed to warehouses and then sent out on their next leg to fill the shelves of Toys ‘?’ Us, Tesco and the mysterious back rooms of Argos. On Christmas Day 2006, carefully wrapped packages were hurriedly opened by children, teenagers and parents, their paper discarded, and the keys to temporary enjoyment revealed in all their glory.
This year I am receiving emails, urging me to advertise and to buy “eco gifts”, as though somehow our consumer frenzy can be sublimated into a kinder, more caring form of consumption — as though it makes any difference; as though, somehow, by buying “green” we become better people, while still being the rabid consumers we are continually urged to be. These people are not trying to save the planet, they are just trying to make you feel better, while the consumer machine keeps grinding away, desperate that no amount of recession, resource depletion or ecological destruction will stop it.
The holiday season is too often characterized by overconsumption and waste, rather than the spirit of giving. From conception, SpaRitual has been committed to creating eco-friendly products crafted to raise environmental awareness and cater to the conscious consumer. “As a brand, we are passionate about safeguarding the environment, reducing waste and limiting the use of non-renewable resources,” says Shel Pink, creator of the SpaRitual brand.
Therefore it is only fitting that the eco-luxury brand would gift its customers with a donation to Trees for the Future, which benefits people living on threatened lands.
With each purchase of SpaRitual products, consumers are making a choice that directly and positively benefits the planet,” Pink says. “By treating ourselves with consciousness, compassion and caring, I realized that the creation of this brand could be a vehicle for extending a larger sense of caring for each other, for our communities and for the world.
Happy Holidays from the SpaRitual Team
What can you say, given all you know about the consumer machine except:
If you’re so bothered by overconsumption at Christmas why…
a) are you sending this email advertising your products at Christmas
b) are you selling this pointless stuff that no one needs at all?
Pure hypocrisy. You don’t lose the consumption yoke by trying to make your company seem ethical – you are selling product, end of.
Have a wonderful Christmas, Yule, or whatever festival you may be celebrating at this time — and please remember, it’s not what you buy, it’s what you do that matters.