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Four times when consumerism was a force for good

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed Frank Trentmann’s book Empire of Things, a sweeping history of consumerism that looks at the question over centuries rather than decades. One of the most striking things, to me at least, is how many positive stories there are, where consumerism proved emancipatory. We all know the positives of […]

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Book review: Empire of Things, by Frank Trentmann

I’ve read a lot of books on consumerism, some I would recommend and many I wouldn’t. I thought I had a pretty good handle on the subject until I read Empire of Things: How we became a world of consumers, from the fifteenth century to the 21st. Frank Trentmann rightly points out that the historical […]

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The 5% of toys kids actually play with

Last week I wrote about how much screen time is healthy for growing minds. Here’s a related question that we find ourselves debating as parents: how many toys should children have? I raise the question because I read recently that the average ten year old has 238 toys. Parents tend to spend £350 pounds a […]

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Aim for the bottom right corner

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The Fashion Transparency Index

This weekend saw the 3rd anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, the garment factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1,134 people. As you may remember, the building hosted several factories, making clothes for global brands including Benetton, Primark, Monsoon and Walmart. When cracks appeared in the building, shops and offices closed and evacuated. The clothing […]

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Why cheap fashion is a problem

A little video for your Friday afternoon, in which the good folks at Grist explain the consequences of cheap fashion. If you’re not familiar with Grist, by the way, mooch on over and have a look at their site. It’s a firmly established and well informed climate change website, but it has its tongue in […]

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Escape Everything, by Robert Wringham

This is a book I’ve been looking forward to reading for some time, as I supported it in advance on Unbound. Robert Wringham is a writer, performer, and editor of the New Escapologist. His advocates a free and simpler lifestyle, and his book is all about escaping from work, consumerism, and despair. Why would you […]

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Innovative advertising or attentional hijacking?

Here’s a novel advertising campaign that won a Golden Lion award at Cannes a couple of years ago. I’ll let the company explain it in their own terms: How you feel about this campaign may well depend on how much you like Dunkin Donuts, but it’s an interesting one. As far as the marketing company […]

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The World Beyond Your Head, by Matthew Crawford

Matthew Crawford is a philosopher and a mechanic, dividing his time between the University of Virginia and his motorbike workshop. As you might expect, this unique combination gives rise to a philosophy that is rooted in material things, a counter-cultural perspective that elevates manual work and craftsmanship. Crawford has a writing style to match, highly […]

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The attentional commons

Matthew Crawford‘s The Case for Working With Your Hands is one of my favourite books, a work of profound but practical philosophy. I’ve been wondering what Crawford would write next, and it’s now out: The World Beyond Your Head – how to flourish in an age of distraction. It’s about how we steward our attention. […]

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