|Everyone and everything pay dearly for the five planet lifestyles of a few.|
I am looking forward to the day that we are honest enough with ourselves to admit that conspicuous consumption, like the cigarette industry, is far worse than initially advertised. In both cases advertising sold them as "good for you". But now we know that both are resulting in the harm and death of millions, including innocent bystanders.
All the resources that are required to support consumer-oriented cultures have to come from somewhere. Most often they are stolen from people living where the resources are with devastating effects on the human and environmental landscape.
My country is one of the worst offenders, both in our high consumption habits, and in our resource extraction industries at home and abroad. 75% of the world’s exploration and mining companies have their headquarters in Canada.
Canadian mining companies, including some of the biggest in the world, frequently extract products against the wishes of local (often indigenous) people. About seventy five Canadian mining companies are active in Peru alone, in exploration for gold, silver, uranium, and copper. Some of these are charged with committing major human rights violations, poisoning watersheds, and destroying the way of life of people who are already experiencing poverty.
In response, more than 200 communities and civil society organizations in Peru are demanding an end to destructive mining practices and for water to be recognized as a human right.
That is why our Prime Minister visited Peru recently, the first PM to do so. Unfortunately he was representing the mining companies, and while there announced the tying of all future aid money to the South American nation to be dependent on further mining development by Canadian companies.
It would have been understandable if the PM were visiting to talk about the 15 civilians who have been killed during protests with Peruvian police forces in the past two years, the majority in conflicts related to oil, mining and gas projects lead by Canadian firms.
The people, and their environment, pay dearly for the conspicuous consumption taking place a world away.
All along the chain that extracts, then transforms raw materials into what is required to live five planet lifestyles, a similar violence is wreaked upon both humans and non-humans everywhere.
It is convenient that the consumers are often far away in both physical and mental space. But it is getting increasingly difficult to maintain the fantasy that everything is fine. Just like the cigarette industry has been exposed for their wrongdoing, it is getting harder to justify the ignorance and denial surrounding unsustainable, violence-based, high consumption lifestyles.
Now we know that the chocolate bar at the check out may contain ingredients obtained through the use of child slaves in Africa. It doesn't taste as good knowing the violence that is being perpetrated to bring the product to our taste buds. The right thing to do is stop buying slave chocolate.
When we reduce our consumption we reduce the costs of our choices, and the violence done on our behalf.
Ideas For One Planet Living
There are many things that can be done that have positive effects on your life, the lives of people everywhere, and the natural world.
- Be mindful of what you consume. Shoot for a one planet lifestyle.
- Avoid advertising like the plague - it will infect you with a lust for stuff and going anywhere but here. Steer clear of glossy magazines, TV, catalogs, internet content buried in ads, and commercial radio.
- Buy less, do less. Focus on personal development - it's free, and freeing.
- Eat low on the food chain. A plant based diet is the healthiest and has the least impact.
- Reduce air travel. Flying increases your eco-footprint dramatically.
- Eliminate processed food, fast food, and GMOs. Eat real food.
- Buy local. When you buy local you support your local farmers and businesses. Money stays in the community.
- Use alternatives to buying new stuff: Craigslist, Freecycle.org, swap with neighbours, give stuff away, borrow, share, or live without.
- Buy Fair Trade/Organic: products that put people and the environment before profits.
- Support cooperatives: housing, food, work, banking, other products and services.
- Practice the most important "Rs" - Refuse, Reduce, Reuse.
- Ride a bike, walk, and use public transportation. These are the most efficient forms of getting around.
- Live simply. Most people on the planet live simply... and they're still happy! It feels good to join them.