January 23, 2021
I see that the trend of conscious consumption, brands that seek a social role (or at least position themselves in that way), is increasing every day. A new fashion? A new wave of consciousness? Or just another way to make more money?
When we talk about conscious consumption, do you realize that we are still talking about consumption? Turns and moves I find myself reflecting on when we were swallowed up by a world where we don't know the purpose of buying what we're buying, when we go on autopilot which is going out to lunch and window shopping, entering stores and buying something . And I'm included in that. Who doesn't feel that warm in their heart after buying a new shirt or seeing an Amazon box arriving home?
Small pleasures of adult life? Or just a symptom of addiction? We live in a hedonistic society, where at the same time, we live with 322 million people suffering from depression (until May 2019, according to WHO) around the world. Laurinha Lero, DJ of the podcast (or radio show) Answering Out Loud, jokes that the time will come when we will pay not to experience it. Is a song playing in the restaurant? I paid 50 cents to hang up. And we will sabotage our own hedonism when pleasure is non-pleasure.
Sometimes I find myself thinking "how many days can I get this show done if I watch two episodes a day?" not even knowing if in the second episode I'll still be having fun watching it; or using the kindle time calculator to imagine if I can speed up my reading time to read more books in a shorter amount of time.
I wonder at what moment the consumption pattern and this false (and brief) pleasure of “being productive” invaded our daily lives, our leisure moments to the point of running to marathon a series.
When did we get to the point of needing to read a linkedin article to become aware of the importance of leisure? does anyone put leisure time on the agenda?
Currently, I have been doing the exercise to understand that the price of things is how much I dedicate my life to them, and to reflect if it's worth it. For example, how many hours of your work would it take to buy a $100.00 pair of pants, considering the amount you earn per hour, which results in the amount of your salary at the end of the month? Let's assume that you earn $15.00 an hour, so to buy the $100.00 pants you would need to work almost 7 hours. So far so good, but now I want you to think about it: if your boss called you at 8 am on a Tuesday and said, “Hi, so-and-so! How are you? Today we will not pay you cash. In exchange for your 7 hours of work, you will be paid with a pair of pants”. Would you accept?
The same goes for our content consumption. We spent hours updating ourselves, following the current series, watching Soul because I couldn't stand to see disclosure on all the sites it opened (at least this one was worth the time, right? <3), following and updating our instagram feed, without to realize that, deep down, all of this is also a way of working, and that by not selecting the content we follow, the “free XPTO weeks” we subscribe to, we are not only wasting time, but also “selling ” mental capacity. We saturate ourselves with information and activities until we get stressed to the point where we need to stop.
At some point, our rhythm of consumption of artifacts also transformed into a consumption of content and information; charging for productivity at work has also become a habit in our personal lives. Now we need to take a vacation not only from work, but from ourselves.
more human brands
One way to make consumption more human is to create a more human brand, but beyond communications on social media.
For example, C&A has an inclusive proposition, both in its communications and in its collections, but I wonder: how much did the seamstress who made that inclusive outfit earn? was the production inclusive for her too?
Well, I did some research, but all I found was information about stylist salaries, and an article by Beatriz Abrantes, written for Fala Universities, called “Fashion and Work: The Value of Your Blouse”, which reads as follows:
“Seamstresses are enslaved in many workshops. They earn per production, about 10, 20, 30 cents. They have to work hard to survive”, is the feeling of 41-year-old seamstress Aparecida Tributino de Souza.
With twelve years of experience in the area, she shows that the devaluation does not only come from their salaries, but also from the amount of work required of them and the form of treatment within the textile market itself. “She still has to make 300 pieces a day, if she can't handle it, she's humiliated, she's called dumb.[...]”
“When we are starting to sew, we think that sewing for C&A, for Marisa, or Pernambucanas, or just for being their representatives, that we will earn a lot of money. But it's an illusion, because sometimes a street vendor makes more profit than you who work in a famous magazine," says Ivete."
“What is most interesting, however, is that all the seamstresses interviewed certify that, when it comes to sewing, there is no difference between the clothes destined for department stores and stores in Brás. Ozolita Maria Freitas da Silva, 43, left the sewing world and is now an educational assistant. “I've already sewed for C&A, Renner and Riachuelo. The same person who takes the service for us took it from several stores. We only knew it was from that store because of the labels.”
Of course, the amount of work required of these women is directly related to the amount of things we consume, but I see the hole is lower.
I see that our current production chain works as follows:
When we talk about conscious consumption, we are usually dealing with the last two parts of the chain, when the greatest environmental and human impact happens in the first two items. We hardly ever reflect on where a particular artifact came from and how it was produced, but we do wonder how we are going to use it and, at best, whether it is recyclable or not. And here is my reflection (without conclusion): the solution for a more conscious consumption is to continue consuming while thinking "do I really need this blouse?" ?
When asked about the price of the parts of the ghost laboratory, in the roda viva on 07/27/2020, the Emicida said the following:
“I'm not going to sell a shirt for R$9.90 and pay a poor salary to a woman who could be my mother. Those who have to ask themselves about the price of the things they sell are people who run this chain in an irresponsible way, who keep people in a production system that are analogous to slavery. We don't relate to that. All people who are linked to Laboratório Ghost, whether in any function, these people enjoy this achievement and that's why in our fashion show the seamstresses are there in the front row crying, emotional because they had never tried to sew an outfit and to be able to watch that being released together with the chic journalists, together with the f*ck fashion critics, together with the businessmen, together with the artists, that's a collective achievement. So this criticism doesn't offend me"
But, I go beyond the salary: what is the representation that the company works, besides communication? Despite using neutral pronouns on social media, or painting the background of an art with the colors of the LGBTqia+ flag, or hiring black models for marketing campaigns, how many transsexuals are part of this company's employee portfolio, for example? What is the role of black people within this corporation? What percentage of women are among C levels?
When dealing with fashion, I leave the indication of the Moda Livre application, which analyzes and categorizes the largest retailers in the country based on the working conditions of their production chains. The app takes into account the following criteria:
1. Policies: commitments made by companies to combat slave labor in their supply chain.
2. Monitoring: measures taken to inspect clothing suppliers.
3. Transparency: actions taken to communicate to customers what has been done to monitor suppliers and fight slave labor.
4. Background: summary of the involvement of companies in cases of slave labor, according to the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MTE).
I know it's fashionable to talk about conscious consumption, a more versatile fashion, minimalism, etc, but I recall here a reflection brought up by Pedro Piovan in an adaptation of the article by Thomas Goetz:
“Imagine you have a donut (or donut) shop. You sell donuts every day to some new customers, others who are already familiar to the house. Especially, there is a person who goes to your store every day and buys some donuts to go.
With each new flavor released, this person eagerly buys a few units.
Whenever this person arrives at the time of payment, he or she is eagerly opening the box to eat a doughnut before finalizing the payment.
One day, when you see this person leaving the store with his bag, you decide to ask, "Do you like donuts?"
And the person answers you: "Actually, I would like to eat less donuts and eat more healthy foods. But I can't resist!"
And the behavior is repeated.”
Today, these products that we produce with the label of “conscientious consumption”, are they a donut shop or do they help their consumers to have a healthier life?
“If we can really make products that meet people's needs, but also produce a better, healthier environment and healthier, happier customers, then we're building something truly irresistible.”
I invite you now to a reflection that has been on my mind for some time now: how inclusive, human, or at least healthy, is the production of the product you work on or are consuming? What is the first step I can take towards this reality?”
If you get any answer, insight, or just want to talk more about it, don't forget to let me know :)
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