Rethinking Personal Consumption
Lusting after that sleek and sexy new laptop? Absolutely need that hot new phone so you can use all those fancy apps? Is your lower-specced camera hampering you from putting out work of great value?
Recently, it’s been toying in my head that I should really finally get myself a shiny new 11.6” Macbook Air after 4.5 solid years with my trusty 2007 Macbook, whose second battery has conked out on me (and I refuse to buy another battery, so my laptop is effectively a portable desktop computer right now). I’ve also been considering upgrading my 2010 Panasonic Lumix LX5 with a better micro four-thirds camera that will also allow me to control focus settings while shooting video. I’ve also considered getting a pretty iPhone after securing all those other stuff, so that I can more easily surf the net, check email / twitter / facebook, etc. than with my rarely used Kindle or my “ancient” Blackberry Curve 8320.
Then, while researching on stories and storytelling on a project I’m doing for Punchdrunk Panda, I somehow stumbled upon the above video on The Story of Electronics (2010) by the storyofstuffproject, and it had me rethinking the need, or should I say, the want for all this new stuff.
Do we really need all this stuff?
I had first encountered The Story of Stuff (the main movie that The Story of Electronics is an offshoot of) maybe 3 years ago, and while it already made an impact on me then and made me a more conscious consumer, stumbling upon The Story of Electronics reminded me about the valuable insights on consumption, the materials economy, perceived obsolescence of gadgets. And while this more recent video focused more on electronics, I think the same ideas apply to the entire retail industry, and it really had me rethinking my personal priorities and my priorities for Punchdrunk Panda.
The Desire To Create A Holistically Sustainable Business
Time and again, I tell Nica, my local partner-in-crime, that I want to create a more eco-friendly business, often referencing the guilt I felt as a product designer and producer of manufactured goods after watching the documentary Objectified (which really deserves a post of its own) some 2-3 years ago. Initially, I had just watched it because I’ve always kind of been interested in industrial design, so I was looking forward to the stories shared by various accomplished industrial designers. Little did I know that the message on sustainability and waste management in the end would be what got to me.
The tricky thing is that here in the Philippines, a lot of the greener material options are either non-existent or very limited and expensive. And while my Punchdrunk Panda co-founder Gail and I have always had the desire to be more environmentally conscious as individuals, we find it really challenging to apply greener practices to the business, and so far, the most “earth-friendly” thing we’ve managed to do is our footwear packaging, which was inspired by Fuseproject’s Puma packaging design.
But this really isn’t enough. One of the challenges we face as a retail company, and as aspiring / struggling planeteers, is really the sustainability (environmentally, and not financially) of the business. It’s an immediate concern for everyone in the business of consumption (and basically, we all are, whether as manufacturers or consumers), and something we can’t afford to turn a blind eye on in favor of bottom lines.
The big question now, is how can we create sustainability, environmentally AND financially? I don’t have the answers yet, but it’s something a lot of brainstorming, and rethinking might help me get closer to. That’s the big dream, and I’ll keep you guys posted on when I can make that a reality. In the meantime, got some ideas you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them. Tweet or e-mail me!
Setting gears in motion,