Living differently: why make this choice?
Posted on September 23 2019
Have you ever wanted to live differently? To be more in tune with your values? Sometimes we envy these people who have left everything to fulfill their passions. We think of this as something unattainable. It’s as if following other ways of life, apart from our consumer-driven society, is impossible.
And yet, wouldn’t it be necessary to head towards a fairer society and more respected nature? Or simply to have a better quality of life?
A society based on having
A single path of accomplishment
It must be said that from the youngest age we are guided toward the same, singular goal. The goal is for each one of us to work hard to obtain a degree, a house, material goods, a successful marriage, and children who will follow the same path … It becomes very difficult to imagine anything different. And if we consider it all the same, many issues face us. The fear of the unknown, the risk of making mistakes, the financial insecurity … All these reasons often make us give up.
Moreover, society itself has been accustomed to this unique path of accomplishment. To act differently often leads to failure, misunderstanding, or disapproval. A kind of invisible pressure pushes us to do the same as others, in order to be understood and accepted … In short, “marginality” is not always in the spotlight!
The necessity of overconsumption
One of the principal reasons for this resides without a doubt in our economic model. Our society relies on constant growth. Therefore, everything is done in order to guide the population toward overconsumption…
In this way, we are constantly urged to earn more to spend more, always more! Marketing and television programs promise us falsely bought happiness by means of mobile phones and new cars. As for built-in obsolescence, it is needed to ensure regular renewal.
To keep up with the pace, we must engage in work that often leaves us with just a few weeks free during the year. Therefore, the money earned is then spent over several holidays, and always in material comfort…The purchase of a house alone will leave us with debt for decades! Between the management of work, children, and the house, it is becoming difficult to make time for rest. We have no more energy to spend being interested in the risks in our society. Multinational corporations have a clear path…
A life beyond possibilities
The resulting consequences are frightening! In addition to depression and burn-outs that happen far too often, we are facing the overconsumption of resources at all levels.
Material goods fill our houses; clothes, children’s accessories, electronic gadgets…Food waste is an important example: we throw away on average one-third of the food that we produce. Moreover, the day we declare that we have exhausted the natural resources that the earth could renew comes earlier every year.
The same goes for energy requirements, which have increased considerably. The use of electrical devices tends to replace all the actions of normal life – from the vacuum cleaner, to shutters, to toothbrushes. While many are concerned about the production of greener energies, should we not also start using it in a more reasonable manner?
The consequences of this lifestyle
With overconsumption comes overproduction. In order to offer us this abundance, corporations exploit foreign workers and natural resources at the same time.
• The social aspects
Our clothes are therefore created mostly in Asia for a particularly low cost of labor. Social rights being practically non-existent, strong pressure is exerted on employees, often women and children. Ridiculous salaries, deplorable working conditions, no contracts or social protections, 12-hour days, 6 days a week…We are not far from a form of modern slavery.
The same goes for electronic devices. The cobalt necessary for the production of batteries comes from 50% of the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, an Amnesty International survey done in 2016 reported serious human rights violations in the exploitation of these mines. The main reason being the forced labor of children in particularly difficult and dangerous conditions…
«14% of the forest would have been cut down over the course of the last 30 years »
We can equally mention the exploitation of the Amazonian forest, which has long been known for its ecological importance. The native peoples are continuously chased from their lands, while 14% of the forest would have been cut down over the course of the last 30 years, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The examples are numerous and apply to practically everything that makes up our daily lives. Our lifestyles, without wanting it, and often without knowing it, are causing many social consequences across the world.
• The environmental aspects
Obviously, this also has ecological repercussions. Firstly, concerning the waste that we produce!
A very large majority of this is abandoned in nature. We dump no less than 8 millions of tons of plastic into the oceans each year. These form real continents in the middle of oceans. According to UNESCO, more than one million birds and more than 100,000 marine mammals are killed by this pollution every year.
Concerning our electronic waste, we export a large quantity to certain African countries like the Congo, Ghana, or Nigeria. For example, 30,000 tons arrive each year in Lagos by second-hand trade. However, according to a United Nations study, 25% of these devices would have been broken and irreparable. This trade is therefore completely illegal. These millions of telephones, televisions, and household appliances create huge landfills, toxic to health and to the environment.
On the other hand, our agricultural systems and intensive livestock breeding are also destructive. They result in enormous carbon emissions, the disappearance of natural spaces, and the vast usage of pesticides…As for industrial fishing, it is responsible for the true plunder of oceans.
• Current problems
All of this brings us to the current problems continuously mentioned: the decrease in biodiversity, global warming, poverty, immigration…
In Europe, 80% of insects have disappeared over the course of the past thirty years, and 30% of birds over the past fifteen years. While we have been warned for the past 40 years, global warming has now reached 1.2C° and practically nothing has been done to curb its progression. Fires, cyclones, floods, or droughts cause more and more damage.
Regarding waves of immigration caused by poverty, wars, and natural disasters, they mainly provoke withdrawal and rejection…
The power of choice
We know that our lifestyles are not realistic for the world in which we live. They produce natural disasters and worsen social inequalities. It’s why living differently is no longer only a need for freedom, but is taking a more involved direction.
The good news is that it’s possible. We need to realize the power in our choices!
Whether you want to change your life or simply change your daily habits, there are initiatives everywhere that offer other models. Some people engage in associations, others choose to live on boats or in tiny houses. Others even try zero-waste living or permaculture!
In any case, changing the way you consume is an essential element. Each purchase is a vote, constantly renewed, guiding supply. The same applies in all sectors and for all activities. As the philosopher Pierre Rabit said on the subject of agriculture:
It is therefore possible to minimize one’s waste, to change one’s diet or means of movement, and to promote local or fair-trade goods, among others.
Today, it’s very difficult to be perfect on all these levels. However, the essential thing is to question oneself and little by little, guide oneself towards better practices. Of course individually, but especially collectively, by asking our cities and our policies to follow the movement!
Live better, for the planet and for yourself
Moreover, consuming less and better is acting in the best interest for the planet and for yourself.
This permits you to liberate yourself from the important economic constraints and to discover a better quality of life. Having more time to fulfill your passions. Living your dreams. Spending time with loved ones, immersing yourself in nature, reading, thinking, and eating healthy…
In fact, our economic system, centered on money and consumption leaves little for personal development. What if happiness isn’t necessarily in the success story we were offered?
We must therefore dare to make our own experiences and act differently. Diversity is what makes our world exciting!
So discover ideas on alternative living, transportation, green energies, diet, and others in order to initiate these changes! And don’t hesitate to tell us about your own life choices. It is through exchange that we progress.
And, why not be inspired by and discover those people who have taken the plunge? The most difficult thing is often to make the decision…and change your life – above all, it’s a breath of fresh air!
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