Sustainability of the capitalist?

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The day after our first lecture I read a brochure “Bugetkompass für Jugendliche” which I got from my bank. It is full of advice for young people who want to learn responsible ways of dealing with money issues. It includes a budget compass as the title says.

I stumbled upon a chapter about conscious consumption. Signe Zerrahn, the writer of the booklet, describes that considering the principle of sustainability is a possibility to find out more about the quality of a product. It is also mentioned that the main idea comes from the field of forestry: Nobody should cut more trees than can grow again.  In regard to consumer goods that means asking whether they were produced socially responsibly and environmentally friendly. There are examples given like:

* When you buy clothes and shoes you should not just look at the price but at the longevity as well.

* You can find out in which country the clothing is produced by looking at the labels. The further away the factory the longer the transportation routes and with it the higher the impact on the environment.

* Use second hand offers or borrow rather than buy!

* Look at the content instead of the packaging! It does not mean that it is a quality product just because there is glitter paper or flower print.

I just summarised the section because it includes so much of the information we gained during our last lessons. It is a practical example to all the theoretical input which underlines that the issue of sustainability and the commons affects everybody. A social act is described which we emphasised too.

What is interesting here is the source in my opinion. A bank, a capitalism supporting institution, encourages sustainability to their young customers through a publication. It is recommended to follow the given instructions to be able to deal with money in order to avoid debts. Desires are mentioned but the aim is to enable the readers to control them. These aspects oppose the capitalist thinking that more is always better. The thought of consuming and with it making profit without needs seems not to be supported.

I would like to start a little discussion about that. Why do you think a bank has an interest in educating the youth as described above?

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One Response to “Sustainability of the capitalist?”

  1. richardlevell Says:

    I find this topic very interesting. BP had a sculture in the city where I previously lived which advertised as being environmentally friendly, which seemed somewhat ironic. A recent ‘Evironment Week’ which was designed to be raising public awareness of environmental issues had corporate sponsered by the likes of Tesco and was not set up as a charity event, its organisers were actually making a profit for putting on the event. Another example of this is delegates of environmental conferences flying to attend the event. The question is really does the awareness raised by these things justify the means.

    Another example where I think that this is demonstrated is the exploitation of animals in zoos. I recently visited London Zoo with my niece and was amazed by the small, cramped conditions that some of these animals were housed. On the side of the cages were advertisements for people to donate money to save other such animals. Is it justified to ‘pimp’ individual animals for the greater good a species?

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