It’s often very clear cut when we humans consume something that is detrimental to our health and wellbeing. We sicken, and sometimes we die. This last stretch of 2018 has seen many cases of death by consumption – cheap bootleg liquor killed at least 21 people while contaminated laksa claimed the lives of 2 unfortunates. Public outcry has seen relevant parties scrambling to find a way to make sure these tragedies don’t happen again.


So its safe to say that if what we consume has obvious negative effects, we generally stop doing it.


Yet something like rampant overconsumption of certain goods and services has very insidious effects. And these effects are not immediately threatening to our way of life so we find ways to ignore it.


We find it easy to push aside the fact that some things we consume with abandon and without a care for sustainability, are in fact poisoning our very planet, accelerating climate change and making life itself untenable.


Thus far, humanity is:


Infected with plastic

The world is choking on plastic. The ocean and its animals are awash in plastic. We are literally eating plastic.


All around the world, there are gyres of plastic swirling in the ocean. Five vortexes in total now cover one-quarter of the planet’s surface and they are getting bigger every year.


What was once a convenient way of packaging, carrying and consuming our goods is now literally choking the life out of the world and all its citizens.


Many countries have already taken measures to reduce our dependency on plastic. Malaysia has plans to abolish single-use plastic, and beginning January 2019, all plastic straws will be banned as well.


Will it be enough?


Addicted to smartphones

Did you know that buying a new smartphone takes as much energy as recharging and operating a smartphone for an entire decade?


Everyone’s obsessed with the newest and latest, willing to fork out an arm and a leg for the latest, best looking tech from brands they love. Apple’s new phones cost upwards of RM5,000 and instead of shaking our heads and saying no, we’re checking our bank balances and making room in our budgets.


And in our quest for the most up to date everything, we ignore the fact that constantly switching phones not only generates waste, but the manufacturing of each new phone creates more strain on the planet.


Building a new smartphone (which includes mining the rare materials inside them) represents 85% – 95% of the device’s total CO2 emissions for two years. And because the trend is bigger = better, each big, fancy phone’s carbon footprint is worse than their small-screened predecessors.


A simple act to minimize this would be to keep your smartphone around. Buy a new battery, change the screen. Even keeping it for three years instead of two can make a considerable impact.


We are all consumers. As such we are all responsible to some degree for what is happening to the planet we all live in and depend on. It’s time we made choices that reflect a conscious desire to lessen our impact on the environment.


Because when we talk, brands have to listen. A good example would be the fashion industry, which is one of the world’s most polluting industries, following oil.


Yet as consumers increasingly prioritise sustainability and fair labour practices in their fashion purchasing decisions, brands have responded with greater focus on ethical manufacturing.


Adidas recently made a limited edition sneaker from recycled ocean plastic.


And Mud Jeans’ innovative “lease a jeans” concept is upcycling at its best. Customers have the option of renting jeans for a monthly fee, returning the jeans when they want to trade up for another style. The jeans are then sold as vintage and named after the former user.


These examples and more show that with commitment, creativity and co-operation, we can indeed lessen our impact on our over-taxed planet.


The Earth is our one and only home. We must work together to be better caretakers.


What is your brand doing to take better care of the Earth? 


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How would your brand participate in the golden age of the geek?

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