Dear Mother Earth,
by Anastasia Cojocaru
Today is your day and I hope that one day we will all learn that infinite growth is impossible in a finite planet. A treaty on consumption and lifestyle drawn up by the NGO forum at the 1992 United Nations Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro, proposed the Six Rs programme: re-evaluation, restructuring, redistribution, reduction, reuse, and recycling. These objectives could lead to a virtuous circle of cooperation and sustainability, but only if we become more aware that every action we take affects the planet we are living on. We should all watch this short clip as a taster of what is really happening at the moment: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Climate Change Debate (HBO).
We are constantly replacing our phones just because a new generation has been released and we need to be updated to the latest technology. But do we? What happened to all the phones we’ve had until now? We buy clothes we only wear once, because who wears a dress twice, right? The Average American throws away 82 pounds of textile waste each year, adding to up to 11 million tons of textile waste from the US alone. Have you ever wandered what happens with your clothes after you don’t need them anymore? After watching The True Cost documentary, you will find out that today we purchase over 80 billion items of new clothing each year, which is 400% more than we bought just two decades ago, and that the tag on your clothes that says ‘Made in Bangladesh’ has a dark story to it. You will probably never want to buy clothes from H&M again after seeing this, just to give you a hint. It might leave you wondering what if the very idea of growth—accumulating riches, destroying the environment and worsening social inequality—is a trap? Maybe we need to aim to create a society that is based on quality not quantity, on cooperation and not competition? Rather than greening capitalism, we should adopt the idea of de-growth, put forward by Serge Latouche in Farewell to Growth.
This implies a shift from capitalism, which is part of nearly everyone’s life, and a turn to an alternative economy. The shift cannot and will not be possible to happen immediately but it’s essential that we are aware of what’s happening, are willing to do something about it, and actually do it. We need to alter our consumption habits. We should take up down-scaling, move away from growth society and instead embrace non-growth, localize economies, and reduce pollution and advertising. At the international level, we can expect real change when there will be binding action from the biggest polluters, when agreements will be enforced with punishment, when fossil fuels will stop being subsidized, when we will invest even more in greener technologies, and, most importantly, when we will put a price on carbon emissions and denial in politics.
Mother Earth, we hope that an alternative future will be a day-to-day reality.
Photo 1 source: musingsfromalondonmum.com
Photo 2 source: insiteproject.org