Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Blog #1

Camilla Yuan

So the next seven days marks the first week of the "Be Green Challenge."  In this movement, the goal is to not purchase anything "new" from a store or website and if we do, then we would have to either buy it second-hand or borrow it from a friend, the exceptions would be any kind of necessity.  The challenge is to see how long we can last without purchasing an item that has not been used.  Through restraining our spending, we can create an awareness of how much we are spending and the consequences of consumerism. 

In our society, consumerism has a become a norm.  People are always purchasing items left-and-right, satisfying whatever needs they have with objects that they think they need.  We often assume that brands are the means to acceptance in social groups, "whether their power is in high-end brands like Mercedes that provide entry into the elite, or low-priced options like Target and Ikea that uplift the populace with a sense of style" (Praet 48).  It is basically human nature to have a desire to want to purchase something that is new, trendy, and fashionable. From a different angle, Palmer's article discusses consumerism from the perspective of the controversial labor that is put behind a product.  Many consumerists fail to recognize the poor conditions of the laborers that actually make the final product because of our privileged society.  Palmer also brings up the point that "what may appear to be horrific working environments to most citizens in the world's richest nation are not just acceptable but actually attractive to others who live overseas or even in 'Third World pockets' of the United States" (1).  The perspective that underprivileged individuals do find horrible working conditions attractive demonstrates how dysfunction our society can be. However, with eye-opening articles, such as this one, and campaigns that bring awareness to our consumerist ways, we can combat the injustices that we indirectly put in. 

I think that this challenge will not be too difficult for me.  Because I know how much of a budget-crunching type situation that I am in, I try to not buy anything I do not really need.  However, if something still catches my eye after a good week or two of wondering whether I should get it, then I would probably take the plunge and buy it.  And plus, I do not really have the time to go shopping, or even online shopping--I am too busy with school, rowing, and work.  Usually the only time that I do splurge on clothing is when I am at home for the breaks and my dad agrees to pay for things :)  Although I think this challenge will be easy for me, I can also use this opportunity to gain an awareness of our spending habits, the world of consumerism, and how consumerism can cause social and environmental stresses. 


Inside Source: Holstein, William J., et al. "Santa's sweatshop." US News & World Report 50 (1996).

Outside Source: Van Praet, Douglas. Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (And Inspire) Marketing. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Print. 

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