In 2004, in an effort to get internet brownie points and as arguably one of the most deceptive PR move in the history of marketing, BP or British Petroleum coined the term, “Carbon Footprint”, which was a metric for one to measure their negative impact on the environment. Albeit evil though brilliant this masterstroke skillfully shifted the responsibility of being environmentally friendly onto the consumers, letting corporations run absolutely scot free of any presumed responsibility.
But surely, times have changed. The consumers have matured and maybe they can hold corporations accountable now and won’t fall for any more silly tactics. Sike, think again, the corporate world doesn’t lose so easy, and today we’re plagued with the same question. Who bears the responsibility of sustainability, is it you and me or our corporate over-lords?
But before we ask ourselves that question? I think its important to ask ourselves whether we’re actually going towards a future where we, as a society are getting better at being environmentally friendly, and whether all of our masturbatory virtue signaling for a more environmentally friendly system has actually even worked?
We’ll start with the most important aspect of our lives today; Our Phones. Our phones are perhaps one of the most important part of our life, the average person spends about 35 days every year staring into dead pixels . So considering that almost everyone in the developed world and a significant portion of people in the developing world has phones, it makes sense that our phones have an impact on the environment and smart phone manufactures across the globe love to gloat about their environmental friendly practices, but all of their claims quickly fall flat when inspected under a microscope. For example, Apple, one of the biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world has taken a very anti-right-to-repair stance, that means that Apple devices are notoriously difficult to repair once a problem occurs, and Apple regularly prioritizes swapping out entire logic boards or sometimes even phones rather than figure out the problem, even if it is as simple as a blown fuse or transistor. Not just this, but Apple deliberately makes it difficult for third party repair techs to source chips and schematics needed to repair these broken devices, forcing consumers to throw out entire devices once they undergo a minor failure. We on the other hand, as consumers also rush out to buy the latest and greatest iPhone, just because its Apple. We take its abuse, just because its Apple. We stand by this abuse just because its Apple. Apple, think different.
Hold your horses android fanboys, because your beloved android companies aren’t perfect either. Samsung is reported to have been engaged in the same predatory practices of locking down phone components so they can’t be changed or have limited functionality too. But let’s zoom out a bit, and this trend becomes apparent all around. For example, people across the globe say that cars just aren’t built like they were in the old days where they would outlive your entire family, and maybe, just maybe, there is a little truth to that, but I won’t dive too deep into that, instead, watch this video that brilliantly summarizes all the points I initially set out to make, (my conclusion is however different from his, but the brunt of the arguments remains unchanged.)
So, at this point, I hope all of us are at the same page, and realize that we, as a society are still not as environmentally responsible as we would want, but who should bear the weight of it ? I argue, not me and you. Not the common person, in fact, that responsibility lies at the shoulders of our representatives.
With a market as saturated as today, and littered with technical jargon thrown around to confuse the average consumer, it is simply not possible, nor fair to expect the consumer to now care about or even make responsible decisions. It is in fact, up to our governments, made up of the people who take our votes who should devise a committee that decides the best course of action to take and effectively stop corporations from adopting strategies that hurt the environment. In essence, what this does is not only does it remove the expectation for every consumer to be aware of a company’s practices but it also absolves the notion that corporations can be self-regulating, which is in essence completely unfounded and non-sensical. It creates a loop where corporations answer to the government who, after every term answer to the general public. In addition to that, these committees need to be un-corruptible, or at least be held accountable to a number of other bodies which ensures that these committees are not bought by large corporations by under the table deals or influenced by lobbying. What I’m suggesting is a model that loosely resembles the Nordic economic model in contrast to the neoliberal economic model where the market is regulated by the state and does not reign supreme
Curse You Kennedy!!