Modern-era models of consumption that have been twirling around collecting and owning stuff have at latest now at the time of ecological and economical crisis started to seem irreparably unstylish and douchy in the eyes of experience seeking, creative and eco-conscious americans.
But where to turn for new ways to consume responsibly or actually unconsume? Traveling backwards in time seems to be trendy in many ways – whether it be in entertainment, restaurant and bar scene, music or fashion (mentioned in earlier post about decadent nostalgia) – but also in a broader sense and on the level of cultural mentality. While the bunch of modern-era words like industrialization, urbanization and globalization once had a positive echo, their side-effects and end-results now seem to raise mostly negative emotions and counteracts. If it’s hard to see a better future rising out of this hangoverish moment in human history it’s better to rewind to times when buying a steak, new clothes or toys didn’t cause a sting in our hearts. These would be the times when there where only one or maybe two steps between the producer and consumer and both of them lived in the same village – aka the pre-modern and pre-industrial era.
Local scale economy, self-reliance and exchange economy have already replaced old models of consumption and will probably become more of a rule than exception in the coming years – since there’s no going back to conspicuous times in that matter. Here’s for example few phenomena that have already existed as weak signals in past years but now seem to have grown popularity and swum to mainstream:
– Joy of swapping has replaced the thrills of shopping. Swapping parties and local freecycling groups are making the world a better place by reducing landfill, lengthening product life cycle and providing useful goods for those in need. Finally a good reason for lending that neat dress from your friend or letting those old chairs go!
-More and more people are also trying to diminish their carbon footprints by boycotting goods and foods that are produced in complex production structures causing emissions and unrecyclable byproducts (from transportation, packaging, production etc.) as well in some cases inequalities in working conditions. This background driver combined to others – like the rise of professional amateurs, increased access to tools and knowledge via the internet and the usage of social media based networking and collaboration platforms (mentioned before in earlier posts) – have contributed to the upswing of DIY-lifestyle. Why pay for someone else if you can do it yourself, save money and environment at the same time and even get a feeling of self-fulfillment for creating something with your own hands – and in many cases in collaboration with other likeminded. So why not turn to “re-using, reducing and remaking”?
And when it comes to new slow food movements (which are very much present and mushrooming here in Brooklyn) self-reliancy is most visible in new the buzzword self-grow, which has been added as another backbone ideal for the trend – the others obviously being locality, organic and fair trade. For example young farmers proud of their responsible agrarian movement are trying to make a statement for sustainable food production and recruit more of their generation to change from suits to rubber boots and to get them up, close and personal with nature again. Their blooming subculture will soon be taking over America when “The Greenhorns” documentary hits the big screens by the end of the year.