Consumerism today represents an unprecedented crisis of values, in ethical, social and material terms. Never before have so many resources and so much energy been used to produce so many goods for so many people. And never before have hundreds of millions of people across the world been so ingeniously encouraged to buy, use and then throw away or upgrade – with increasing rapidity – what they have bought. This has resulted in a world of unsustainable material flows, and a world drowning in waste.
What are the consequences of our addiction to convenience? How can we move beyond the belief that ever-increasing consumption is equivalent to progress? Ahead of the publication of Somebody Else’s Problem: Consumerism, Sustainability and Design by Robert Crocker, foreword author – Stuart Walker – considers why it’s time for a shift in priorities.
I was sitting on a beach in a sheltered cove in Greece. I was on one of the lesser visited islands and this place was quite secluded – a lengthy walk from the nearest road. The water was calm, the sky was blue – it was a perfect scene. One could imagine Odysseus dropping anchor in such a cove, and wood nymphs playing among the shadows of the tamarisk trees that came down to the sand.