This weeks blog is from Katrin Stiper. Katrin recently came back for a third time to work with DP us where she used her expertise in Environmental Resource Management to create content for our online platforms and worked on some of our upcoming programmes.
Have you ever ask yourself how many stations a piece of chocolate or your new t-shirt was going through? Most of the time it is very hard to retrace it. And then there is the nice thing called advertising which tries to persuade us to buy new things with sparkling pictures and cool music. Advertisement can´t catch you? Well maybe, but do you know which actor makes advertisement for a popular coffee brand? Oh you know it? It influences us subconsciously. But amazing advertising and a nice package does not mean that everything which is included is great. Just because it´s a great brand it does not mean that the products were produced fairly and that the people were fairly treated. And most of the time it is very difficult to find out what´s really inside. Often the advertising and packing is directly adapted to a target group, so you don´t just buy the product you buy the lifestyle.
Humans simply like to buy things, we are hunters and collectors. And the cheaper, the greater the happy feeling and the smaller our guilty conscience.
My new trousers cost 10 euros. Have you ever thought about what a pair of jeans for 10 euros costs our planet and fellow humans? How much water was needed? How many chemicals were used? How much energy was needed? How much CO2 was emitted during transport? What hands have sewn these Jeans? Majority of the time the impacts of production are equal no matter the cost.
I need 10,850 litres water.
From the Cotton Field to the UK I travel 17,950 km (if my cotton is from America) or 7,600 km (if my cotton is from Turkey).
But yes, I also buy regular jeans which are not fairly produced. I am a student and currently do not have the financial resources to buy fairly produced clothes. Why then am I writing this blog? Because information can be very powerful. And even though I can´t afford fairly produced Jeans, I can contribute something. I only buy as many as I need and I use these for as long as possible.
But unfortunately, most people believe that they alone can change nothing, however, the past and also the present always proves the opposite. The truth is, anyone can contribute. One of the main things we could do is to use our electrical appliances until they are broken in order to reduce our consumption. And you can also reuse.
I know from my own experience that it can be very hard to find spare parts for electrical appliances. Much harder than purchasing new ones. For example I had to replace the battery of my netbook and I thought it would be easy to find the appropriate battery. Four shops later, really mad and disappointed I finally found a salesman who could order the right one for me. So as can be seen, it can be much easier and sometimes also cheaper to buy a new device. My netbook almost ended up in the trash after just two years. Although it works flawlessy with the new battery. And when you consider that in the circuit boards many different metals are processed which can no longer be isolated and recycled, it´s a shame how many raw materials we consume unwittingly. The researchers are working to find solutions to separate and recycle the metals on the board, but still less than half of the circuit boards are able to be recycled, meaning that there is an enormous waste of resources. And we all know, our resources are not unlimited, it just seems that way because the corporations enjoy watching us as we go shopping, because it is their profit.
It is not only the consumption of metals, there are also other raw materials consumed, such as water
The water is in a constant cycle on Earth, but the amount remains the same. The fact is that we are always using and polluting more water, so the overall quality is getting worse in this cycle. By transporting the new electrical appliances CO2 is emitted which is partly responsible for climate change. The energy which is required in production must be created first, and possibly comes from nuclear power plants . Like Isaac Newton said: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. We must also be aware of which we will contribute to when purchasing a product, whether positive or negative.
So ask yourself, do I really need more new stuff?
It makes no difference whether the product is a pair of jeans or a netbook. Each product requires resources to be consumed; it is estimated that 20% of the worlds population needs 80% of the global resources. So people open your eyes, and have a look what is behind the advertisements and the product. I know it´s often really hard to get the right information. But try to discuss, go out, be interested and get delighted by the beauty of nature for the sight of which we do not have to pay, but which is priceless. One alone can perhaps do little, but each action makes waves, just like when you throw a stone into the water.