Contributed a workshop to Christian Ecology Link’s 30th anniversary conference. The theme was ‘consumer detox’, about the challenges of living sustainably in a consumer culture.
It’s 07:49am and I’m standing on an escalator, flanked on both sides by streaming commuters and flashing LCD screens. Easyjet suggest I go skiing. Armani want me to know that their new mobile phone has ‘night effect’, whatever that might be. I deserve more TV channels, and Virgin would love to supply them to me. I am barely an hour into my day, and already I have seen dozens of these visions of commodified happiness. Where, in all this buzz of hype, is the promise of real life?
The consumer dream is, in essence, the promise that happiness will come to us through our consumer choices. I will be a more fulfilled person if I have a larger house, a faster car, and newer clothes. I will feel better about myself, and others will like me more.
Make Wealth History is one today. I never noticed the anniversary of any other blog, but I’ve put so much into this one it feels worth celebrating. My reflections on our first year here.
I have a new game. Last week I took delivery of a tv-b-gone keyring remote, and I have taken it upon myself to rid my local shopping centre of audio-visual pollution. For three years I’ve been walking to work through a certain shopping centre that shall remain nameless, and day in, day out they have the same adverts, the same ‘info-tainment’ about fashion shows and film premiers. No more. The tv-b-gone is a tiny remote control with just one button – off – and it works on any television. It really is making me very happy.
The remote was invented by Mitch Altman a few years ago, after he spent an evening of stilted conversation in a restaurant with a TV on in the background. I read about it in a Wired article ages ago, but the first run of remotes sold out very quickly indeed, and I’ve been waiting to get my hands on one for some time. You can now get one from iwoot. Adbusters have been on about them too, as part of their TV turnoff week campaigns.
I highly recommend getting hold of one, and reclaiming some public space. Mine has worked so far in the mall, in Sainsbury’s and WHSmith, and I’ve saved both Dixons and Curry’s several pounds in electricity bills.