My sister was visiting at the weekend. While wandering around the city, I showed her my phone, and pointed out that it seemed to be prying apart on one side.
“I must have dropped it,” I said.
“Just get a new one,” she replied.
“NO! That’s why the world is in such a mess!” The strength of my reaction surprised me, and I apologised. I don’t like being too opinionated about things, but the constant product cycle upgrade madness our world is consumed by really gets my goat.
Every camera, smart-phone, tablet, laptop etc, is deliberately made out of date after a year, and we are mercilessly made to feel that our life will not be cool or worthwhile if we don’t keep up with the latest model.
We all know that, but what surprised me was when, a few days later, I was reading through a version of the Buddhist 5 Mindfulness Trainings – ethical guidelines for a happy, meaningful, life – and the theme cropped up again.
I read, “Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals.”
I’d always thought the bit about the minerals was a bit odd. But that’s what the product replacement cycle business is all about – minerals. Everyone on the planet has the right to upgrade their smartphone every year, but if we all do, how long will the mineral supplies last? Will there be any left for ten generations down the line? Even three?
It’s hard to write about this stuff without sounding like a smug eco-crusader (and I recently bought a new camera after all), but the fact is that I am writing on a 6 year old laptop, I have a four year old phone, and a twelve year old car. And they all work beautifully. They are good enough. Long may they last.
Note: I realised the next morning that this post is about mindful consumption – and I saw that we can be mindful not only of what we eat, and what we read or watch on the screen (the media we consume and its effect on us), but of the way we consume every type of natural resource – plants, minerals, animals – and even of how we consume other people’s time and energies.
If we are mindful of everything we consume, on so many of these levels, our health, and that of the planet and everyone else that inhabits it, will surely be in better shape now and going forward.