Consumer Culture and Our Vote
Creating Space with a Rich Product Lineup
One of the highlights of my overseas trips has always been exploring supermarkets. When I came to study in Denmark and started living alone, I was excited about saving money. However, when I looked at the products with anticipation, I found an unexpectedly diverse array of choices.
Even for something as simple as “milk,” there were at least 10 different types. From the conventional higher-fat cow’s milk to low-fat milk, fat-free milk, and plant-based milk like soy, oat, almond, rice, hazelnut, and more. Almost all of them were organic.
One notable difference from Japanese supermarkets was that there was little price difference between these various options. In such situations where price isn’t the decisive factor, it naturally led me to consider the richness of the environment around me and the care for my own health.
Even in Japan, there are shops where I can experience something similar. Bio c’ Bon is a Parisian supermarket that aims to “create a society where organic products are used in daily life.” It offers a variety of products to meet diverse needs, such as allergies and dietary preferences, and adopts a bulk sales system where you can buy the required quantity.
Within the context of environmental, health, and animal welfare concerns, there is no single right answer when it comes to the ethics of food consumption. That’s why creating “space” to contemplate the significance, impact, and responsibility of consumption from the wide range of choices becomes crucial.
Discovering Stories through Weight
Carrying a reusable bottle has become a growing step towards sustainability. While I used to carry my own bottle in Japan, I completely forgot to bring it to Sweden. Although the city actively reduces waste, using mugs and paper straws at cafes and having recycling boxes with a deposit system for plastic bottles at supermarkets, I still find myself craving my own bottle whenever I get thirsty.
In my search for a reusable bottle, I came across a colorful water bottle in a small Berlin store. I was instantly drawn to its vibrant and cute colors and was surprised by how incredibly lightweight it was. Despite being a 500ml bottle, it weighed only 80 grams. Even more astonishing was that this weight represented the amount of CO2 saved when using a reusable bottle instead of a plastic one. The story behind this small and light bottle goes beyond this, as its entire manufacturing, packaging, and transportation CO2 emissions are traced and offset through reforestation efforts.
I fell in love with this bottle and finally got my long-awaited reusable bottle. Its lightness and slim design eliminated the inconvenience of carrying it around.
The emotions of “troublesome,” “difficult,” and “costly” associated with “Susta” and “Ethical” could become significant keywords in shaping future consumer behavior. By transforming these negative feelings into positive ones and removing barriers, we can significantly lower the hurdles to changing our actions.
Messages from the Feet
The other day, I bought an old issue of the literary culture magazine “IN THE CITY” published by BEAMS from a second-hand bookstore in Kichijoji. In one of the essays titled “Wearing High Heels in a Tough City, Wearing Tough High Heels,” it discusses women who choose to wear high heels even on NY’s unstable road surfaces. “High heels are part of battle gear, and women send various messages from their feet.” Though the essay feels a bit dated, it could be applicable even today.
Recently, I purchased the “AIR ZOOM-TYPE” sneakers from NIKE. As many might know, NIKE is actively engaged in sustainability efforts. These sneakers feature recycled AIR soles and regenerated leather (suede), and they are manufactured using 100% renewable energy.
With a mission to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world,” NIKE has also taken on the responsibility of protecting the future of sports and, in turn, the future of our planet. As I explore NIKE’s website, I find that they are addressing sustainability from three perspectives: materials and design, supply chain, and operations and retail.
The more I research, the more attached I become. From now on, I will see these sneakers as more than just a product’s carbon footprint. A straightforward approach of creating and buying things that can be loved for a long time may be just as important.
People have the right to demand that the design of the things they own be timeless, and we believe that NIKE’s products will never become outdated.
The Ultimate Sustainability: Loving Things for a Long Time
“[Buying] is an act of inviting new values into oneself and voting for a better society.” (Recently, I have strongly felt this way.)
Looking back at the inaugural issue of the newsletter, I return to its roots. I want to ponder about what it means to be an “ethical” and “environmentally friendly” company from an everyday perspective.
I confess that in my daily shopping and surroundings, I hardly ever give much thought to “ethics” or “environment.” However, occasionally, I come across impressive items. One of them is the candle holder from iittala. Launched in 2020, it is part of their “Recycled Glass Collection,” which uses only discarded glass as material.
As a first step toward their goal of “recycling or reusing all waste from iittala’s operations and sending zero waste to landfills by 2030,” these products were introduced to the store. Of course, at that time, I had no idea about this. (Or rather, I merely glanced over the English captions.)
I was simply drawn to iittala’s pursuit of “timeless beauty” through its design and colors, or dare I say, its coolness? This attraction surpasses complex logical reasoning.
Of course, the carbon footprint of a product is an essential element. However, equally important is the straightforward attitude of creating/buying things that can be loved for a long time.