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the-waste-makers

Vance Packard’s consumerist utopia

You might not have heard of Vance Packard. He is not well known today, but in 1960 he wrote a book about the onset of consumerism called The Waste Makers. It describes the invention of planned obsolescence and decries the advent of a throwaway society with striking prescience. In the opening of The Waste Makers, […]

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emerging-consumerism

The materialism of developing countries

Do we measure our success by what we own? That’s supposed to be one of the hallmarks of a consumer society, with material possessions giving us our status and identity. But if you ask people if they measure their success by their possessions, the vast majority of British people will say no. That’s according to […]

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Black-Friday

Let’s not import Black Friday

Yesterday was Black Friday in America, but if don’t have to be American to have heard of it. It’s the day after Thanksgiving, a holiday for many people, and hence it has become the busiest shopping day of the year. The big stores all capitalise on this with big discounts, encouraging a buying frenzy. We’ve […]

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project-wild-thing

Project Wild Thing

Child psychologists tell us that outdoor play is important for children’s wellbeing and development, but today’s children spend more time indoors than previous generations. Project Wild Thing is a film that explores our relationship with the outdoors, the technologies and consumerist messages that keep us inside, and how we can reconnect with nature. There is […]

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we have met the enemy

Book review: We have met the enemy

A book about self control sounds pretty worthy, the kind of thing you might need a fair degree of self control to get round to reading in fact. But don’t yield to the temptation to click onto something more exciting just yet – Daniel Akst’s book is a whole lot more fun than you might […]

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child-welfare

Should we stop advertising to children?

Earlier this year, UNICEF released a report into child welfare, ranking 29 developed countries. Britain fared poorly, coming last for access to higher education, 27th for teenage pregnancy and 24th for youth unemployment. The report also says that current policy directions, such as slashing funding for youth services, will make this worse and increase child […]

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carbon-omissions

Carbon Omissions – the CO2 we’re not counting

There was an event in London last night that I’d have got along to under normal circumstances*  – the launch of Carbon Omissions. It’s a project from the Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC), whose previous work includes Climate Safety and the advertising report Think of me as Evil?. Both of those were engaging and thought […]

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baby-dig

How to foster a sustainable childhood

In writing the title of this post, it struck me that ‘sustainable childhood’ sounds like Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up. I’m not talking about creating a childhood that can be magically sustained forever of course, but about encouraging children to develop an awareness of the earth and how to live well on […]

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splash_home_italianjob

The changing culture of disposability

In the past, most things that you owned were built to last. Household goods were expensive, and you looked after what you had, repairing things and maintaining them. In the early 20th century, new industrial processes and new materials – plastic especially – began to change that. One of the first and best known examples […]

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collaborative-consumption

Four forces of consumerism

I’ve been reading What’s mine is yours by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers recently. It’s all about new forms of consumption and how the internet is changing attitudes to ownership. It’s also full of insights into consumerism, and in one chapter they describe four forces that drive it. I’ve not used the same names as they […]

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