“With great power comes great responsibility.”
Uncle Ben used this sage wisdom to advise Peter Parker (Spider-man) when he was enduring teenage growing pains. But the phrase, chock-full of sense, relates to all of us in our status as consumers today. What we consume says a lot about who we are, where we’re at in our personal development, and — more importantly — produces lasting ripple effects throughout our world at large.
The marketing industry has played many tricks on us over the years: items like cigarettes, diet pills, and bottled water are evidence of the fantasy world that consumerist culture is capable of creating. It can sometimes seem that we’re constantly at the mercy of advertising schemes aimed at swaying our pocketbooks in the direction of unnecessary products. Terms including planned obsolescence and commodity fetishism reveal the many (unseen) layers of which consumption is comprised.
The time for mindful consumption is now
However, with the advent of the internet, information is disseminated like never before — meaning that as consumers, we’re now more powerful than ever. If we’re loud enough, our voices will be heard: boycotting immoral corporations can cause real change to occur, while using mindful technology enables us to make ethical choices more easily. For example, Smartphone apps such as Seafood Watch give us an instantly accessible pocket-guide to sustainable seafood. As one sustainable seafood writer notes:
“Simply open the app, type in the name of the fish or shellfish and discover the ‘Best Choice,’ ‘Good Alternative,’ or ‘Avoid’ options! Now everyone – businesses and consumers – have another tool to help protect our ocean resources by choosing seafood options that do not harm the environment.”
Our voices, and actions, matter
My friend, Laura Gibbs, is as passionate about being a mindful consumer as she is about coffee. She opened my eyes to the damage that Nestle is doing in various parts of the world, motivating me to embark on my own investigation of harmful corporations. Laura shares with us her personal view on we can all have a positive effect on our environment through making sustainable choices as consumers.
LG: Big corporations have years of experience and a lot of money to throw into marketing campaigns in developing markets in order to become a dominant name in the future. Unfortunately, companies like Nestlé are purely motivated by money and shareholder revenue and, therefore, behave unethically and don’t act in the interests of the country, or people.
The main problem is a lack of regulation for international companies – essentially, there is no international monopoly or CSR (corporate social responsibility) governing body that has power to punish, or fine corporations for bad behavior.
So for now, consumers must use their purchasing power and avoid certain products (like KitKat, Nescafé and especially Nestlé water brands including Vittel, Perrier, and San Pellegrino), and raise awareness about the bad behavior of companies like Nestlé. If out at a restaurant or cafe, and you are served a brand like Nestlé water, explain your views to the waitress. She will usually tell her boss who, if he has enough complaints or the product doesn’t sell, might actually change brand.
How we spend our money has a lot of power — we can help change the world dime by dime!
The harsh realities of Bottled Life
Thank you to Laura for lending us her thoughts on this. Surrounding ourselves with positive, eco-minded people can really encourage us to take steps forward toward living a sustainable lifestyle. Similarly, films like Bottled Life: The Truth about Nestle’s Business with Water are helping to spread awareness about the harsh realities of the bottled water industry.
This well-researched film reveals how corporations have corrupted our most precious life-source by turning water into a commodity for the privileged. The documentary discloses the many ways in which Nestle is abusing both our environment and people, including, ”using up precious natural water resources to create and commercialize ‘new’ water, [and creating] dependence on bottled water, in particular where public water supplies are close to collapse, and notably in developing countries.”
Sustainable living and Soma
When we choose eco-friendly products like the all natural Soma water filter, we’re not only making a mindful choice as consumers, but we’re equally taking an active stance against harmful, unethical companies. As Laura says, we really can save the world, one purchase at a time — voting with our dollar is perhaps our most powerful method by which to make seismic, sustainable shifts.
While cultivating a sustainable lifestyle starts in our hearts, the proof is in our everyday habits and purchases: supporting ethical products and companies is a straightforward way to make positive waves of change. In the new year, let’s make one of our resolutions to walk mindfully in the direction of sustainable living — and start changing the world, dime by dime.