Can you answer the question, ‘When are we no longer hungry?’
It is an impossible question. The world is starving. And it doesn’t matter if you are standing on 5th Avenue in New York City or in the deepest ghettos of Mexico City. If you are dressed in Gucci or Kmart. If you have your name in the Walk of Fame or if you are a homeless.
It’s a Catch 22. We need to purchase to make the world go around, strengthen the economy and support jobs. Yet we need to quit purchasing for the sake of the environment.
A couple of weeks ago I attended a photo exhibit and presentation called Hunger by Jens Assur, well-known swedish press photographer. When hearing the name of a photo exhibit called ‘Hunger,’ one thinks of images of starvation and poverty. The interesting thing about Jens’ exhibit was, for example, the contrast between an image of the world’s most exclusive hotel next to a poverty-stricken area most of us have never come near.
The point: the world never gets filled up. We long for more and more, bigger and better, shinier, newer, latest and greatest.
Better than the photography itself was Jens’ speech about his travels, his views, and his collected knowledge during the course of the project. Many facts came about that I would love to regurgitate (no pun intended!). But the part that stuck mostly was something that we all know but need to be reminded: life is all about balance. Helping our environment is not about deciding to never travel with the family and selling the car, but rather making reasonable sacrifices. If you do one thing that is not optimal, be sure to contra that with something that is beneficial, something that is possibly not as comfortable as you would have liked. Jens’ example: go ahead and fly to a vacation destination with the family, but make a dedication to ride a bike to work for the rest of the year. While this seems so basic, do we ask yourselves such things each day and really DO IT?
One of the steps that my family does is go to car trunk (car boot) flea markets. With a two-year-old, does he really need to be dressing in new designer clothes? I think not. We have not only literally saved thousands of swedish crowns on clothing, outerwear and shoes which will help with his education later, but we have made a little contribution to a more sustainable world. And our son looks just as cute and clean, I guarantee.
During my career, I have occasionally gone through phases when I wonder, am I contributing to the downfall of the world by working with consumerism? (Yes, moving to Africa was a consideration of mine also ten years ago, as it is for many people!) I have seen my packages smashed on the sides of the road and think, ‘ I did that!‘ But now we are all becoming more aware that smart design can actually help in many ways:
1. By guiding the consumer to smart purchases and necessary purchases.
2. By creating new and innovative ideas for the packaging of goods
3. By creating something that will be kept, cherised, and reused.
4. By affecting the amount of packaging used by suggesting the elimination of outer cartons or making rawer packaging look desirable and modern.
5. By using visual communication to help make information clearer on material usage and recycling, or the proper disposal of medicine and toxic products.
Puma used design as a smart tool with their CLEVER LITTLE BAG (c), an innovative way to break our indoctrinated idea of a ‘shoe box’ to greatly reduce packaging materials. Bakerscape encourages more companies to consider this balance: a greater initial investment to reap the rewards for our earth in the future.
As a final note, I am inspired by Iittalas clear stand on their website and hope that all of us can work together toward this mission.
DEDICATED TO LASTING DESIGN AGAINST THROWAWAYISM