Consumption during Black Friday increases year after year. Today, Friday 26th, Black Friday, we rebel to denounce the culture of mass consumption, the ecological impact it implicates, the extractivism it implies and the oppression it entails in exploited countries. Large corporations such as Amazon, Inditex, MediaMarkt or Apple manipulate us to profit at our expense and above all at the expense of the ecosystems that make up the planet and on which we depend to live.
Do we really need this new mobile phone or tablet, made with minerals from Africa or South America in an Asian factory? Or these new jeans made with American cotton in a factory in India? How long will both last us? Will they be with us on the next Black Friday?
Our desire for consumption is not a necessity. We have reached the point where, induced by advertising and marketing, we spend hours and hours of work to buy things that we do not need, that do not fulfil us and do not make us happy. This consumption enslaves us to precarious work, puts us in the hands of the same multinationals whose products we consume, and uses us as subjects to promote the extreme economic inequality and oppression with which this capitalist system is maintained.
This mass consumerism causes deforestation, loss of biodiversity, air and soil pollution, extraction of raw materials and soil disturbance and a decrease in water quantity and quality. We are consuming everything that sustains us, we are consuming our own future, we are consuming ourselves.
During 2019, 19 kilos of e-waste per person were generated in Spain alone. The vast majority of this waste is not recycled, it’s exported to Asia and North Africa, and it ends up being dumped in huge landfills. This waste pollutes thousands of litres of water and completely damages the surrounding ecosystems and the health of the people who depend on them.
Before all these electronic components become waste, we find more social and environmental impacts along the production chain. The mining industry associated with coltan, rare-earth, lithium and many other materials needed to produce most of the components found in electronic devices are some of the most violent and bloodstained industries around. These conflicts associated with coltan can be seen in most places where it is mined, such as Latin America.
With regard to lithium, we find that its extraction is also associated with social and environmental conflicts. In Chile, the extraction associated with lithium is forcing thousands of people to migrate because of the exploitation and contamination of the water on which they subsist.
The fashion industry generates 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, pollutes 20% of the planet’s water resources and releases 50 billion plastic bottles in the form of microplastics into the sea every year. In terms of manufacturing, we find that through the offshoring of production, the fashion industry, and especially companies like Inditex, have exploited and virtually enslaved workers.
This consumption culture is based on a neocolonial extractivist system that exacerbates social inequalities, oppression, and domination of some over others, and this domination is carried out for multinationals and like-minded states. This rampant extractivism destroys everything in its path, it is literally leading us to ecological and social collapse, as it operates under the paradigm of unlimited capitalist growth. There are no infinite resources on a finite planet.
Is it our fault? We all need goods and services, but do we know how many we need? Does it make us happier to have more material goods? Or perhaps we would be happier with more social goods? We need to weave more networks of social solidarity and cooperation and leave individualistic consumerism behind.
Big corporations profit from this manipulation, while ecosystems have to put up with the fact that they are always creating new needs for us. The big corporations are busting prices, while local businesses and our neighbourhoods must survive as best they can against a voracious competition that is able to undercut the prices of the exploitation of the planet. These companies are responsible for the ecological and human crisis that we are living and will live through.
Buy local, buy green, buy responsible, buy second-hand or don’t buy at all! Share, exchange, and repair! Above all, we are faced with the manipulation of the big brands that infantilize us. They generate chronic dissatisfaction in order to line their pockets at our expense, at the expense of local commerce and the planet, without caring about the consequences.
Will you be happier with this new mobile phone or this new T-shirt? Maybe you will, maybe you won’t, but MediaMarkt, Apple, Inditex, Amazon and others sure are, and the planet is not.
Be a part of the change. Decrease materially, cooperate, swap, recycle, repair and above all rebel against this self-destructive system.