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consumption

not referring to tuberculosis, but our consumer oriented profit by any means driven society. it's quite troubling when i find out about this type of news where retailers will destroy products they can't sell instead of donating it to those whom it could benefit, since they can't make a profit on it. most probably know how much i despise wl-mrt and their business practices leading to my vow to never buy anything from their stores... the mention of wl-mrt in this article didn't surprise me all that much. what i was surprised at was h&m's actions. now i've never bought anything from h&m before, but i've had a generally favorable impression of them from some friends who shop there. i also know that they're not a US based company, but are instead based in sweden. coming from a european nation, i don't know if maybe i was expecting a more socially responsible corporate culture to be able to permeate throughout their global organization or something, but obviously in this case it didn't happen in it's nyc store. no one can say if this practice happens at other stores, but i feel it's more repulsive that it happened in the nyc store in the sense that there would be a lot of people in the city who could have used these perfectly good products that were destroyed and thrown out (as the article mentions).

something else i found interesting is this link that looks back on the new gadgets coming out in 1979. i have this weird relationship with technology. i like new gadgets, they fascinate and amaze me sometimes, but looking at things with a long term perspective, i see a lot of wasted money and resources. just watching that video clip from 1979, got me thinking about all the old vcrs which have probably been thrown out once people started buying dvd players en mass. this was back in the day there weren't any recycling programs for electronics. thinking about the production of those old vcrs; the raw materials, metals and minerals that needed to be mined to make circuitboards and the electronic chassis, they needed to come from somewhere, possibly domestically or overseas. shift to the factories and facilities that would refine and put together these products, which probably dumped a bunch of chemicals into the environment during the process. wrap everything together and think about how everything needed to be shipped from one point to another using some form of fossil fuel, and the overall picture is not one that is very good to our environment. especially considering the shelf life of these products was only 2-3 decades before we ditch them, and with each new cycle of products that time frame is getting shorter. think of how many vcr's there were back in the day, and how many vhs tapes were made. once dvds came out, many replaced their collections of tapes with dvds. we're spending money on the same products (though the sound and picture might be clearer, is it really value added at the end of the day?), money that we could use for other purposes. people around the world still die of malaria, a disease that has been controlled in most developed countries. many in the world do not even have a stable and clean supply of drinking water. there are so many things we could do with the extra capital we save to fix global problems, especially in undeveloped and developing countries. at the end of the day, our dvds are just gonna be replaced by the next thing that comes out (blu-ray), and the technological march will continue for consumers. i wonder sometimes if we really need all the stuff we have access to. it seems like it's just a distraction for us, and that will drive companies to advance the next big thing because they are in the market to make a profit, that is their main purpose in the lifecycle. i was reading recently how they're coming out with 3d tv now, since all these movies out are all gonna be 3d. personally i don't think it will work, especially if you have to wear those glasses, but taking a more ecological view, why in the world do we need 3d tv? will it improve our lives? could we instead funnel money that would have been spent on them to africa, south america, southern and southeast asia, or other places where we can build wells? eradicate mosquitoes? lower the prevalence of diarrheal disease in young children? especially if that 3d tv set will be in the trash in 5 years.

however, i cannot say that i don't get excited when new things come out. i posted just recently about the new google nexus one. that is a pretty cool product i'll have to admit. the stuff that we're able to build gets more and more amazing every year. i've found though that as i've gotten older (though probably not more mature), getting these new toys has meant less and less to me. i'm at a point in my life when i can say that i almost feel like a dinosaur in terms of technology. my friends who i grew up with and i have been through some of the most drastic changes in our short 3 decade span of life. i was talking with some of them recently. kids that grow up now have no clue what the sound of a modem connecting to a dial-up isp sounds like. they don't know what a dial tone sounds like unless they have a landline phone. they don't know what life was like pre-internet. they might have never seen an audio cassette, and maybe even a cd. crt tv's and monitors might be foreign to them. they may have never had to load film in a camera, or wait for a roll to be developed. they've never encountered a limit of 12, 24, or 36 exposures. they might not be able to appreciate a complete album, or listen to one straight through, as mp3s have allowed people to only choose tracks they "like". as new innovations come out, they have made some aspects of life "stupid-proof" and maybe even easier, but there's a whole lot of skill and knowledge that has and will be lost because of it. i think about the art of photography regarding the use of film a lot. i've always loved the medium. the knowledge one needs about different types of film, adjusting with/for film speed depending on environmental conditions, in terms of how you want to capture your image. the process of film development, the timing it takes in the different chemicals to develop and set the images on paper. you can play around and/or keep track of so many different variables to have a picture turn out the way you want it to. sometimes you only have once chance to do it, so you better be really good at what you do. it's not to say i can't or won't appreciate pictures taken with a digital camera, pictures are pictures... but i will say that i can appreciate the craft that has gone into the whole process a lot more of a photo that i really identify with, developed using those old techniques.

Comments (1)

Florence [TypeKey Profile Page]:

i used to love h&m a lot.
i wish i had learned how to develop films.

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