Thursday, February 17, 2011


Artwork by Kim Dreyer

It's been a long time since I've posted anything here, even though I have stopped going to markets, there still doesn't seem to be enough hours in a day to get done what I want to and need to.
Today I want to talk about consumerism and materialism.  I find it very hard at times to justify adding more products into the market out there - my artworks.  I believe that we consume way too much on this planet and HAVE to slow down...... but how else does an artist make a living other than to sell his/her art.  So I try to always have a deeper meaning to my art - something special I can share with everyone out there who buys my artworks.  That's why you will find most of my artworks linked to a story or a poem about conservation, healing and love.

Today, so many of us, especially those in the bigger cities fall into the vicious cycle of consuming at an alarming rate.  And it's not surprising.  We are bombarded in the print and digital media by advertising.  They constantly find new ways to persuade us to part with our hard earned money.  We are so used to it that we do not notice how totally invasive and over-the-top it has become.  Supermarkets use carefully planned techniques, tricks of the trade, in displaying and promoting products.  See Tricks Supermarkets Use to Sell Their Products   (Even though this article is written in the UK, these tricks are used world-wide.)  Print and digital media advertisers also use a number of tricks to catch our attention and encourage us to part with our money.

They use catch words that have nothing to do with the product; words like natural and healthy to describe processed foods and the worst thing is we let them get away with it.   I mean who is going to believe that a chocolate spread is a healthy breakfast to feed to your children in the morning?.....sadly way too many.   In South Africa at present there is no proper control regarding Organic products .  So retailers and producers can get away with calling a product organic, even though it might not really be.  In fact a leading organic retailer told one of their suppliers that even though not all the ingredients in their product were organic, they can still label it organic  because products do not get checked at present.  As consumers we need to educate ourselves, read and question before we blindly buy an item.  The consumer is powerful.  We can have more control over what we see in advertising and in retail outlets, but we do not use that power..... it's time we did.

So how can we make a difference?  Firstly, don't blindly believe all you see or hear in an advert.  When buying a bigger item, think about it for a couple of weeks first (or longer) - you might even decide you do not really need it.  Don't replace an item just because a new version is available.  Buy local wherever possible.  I have what I call a double-back policy.  If I decide to buy a new item, I have to donate at least two similar items to charity.  If you feel a company is using less than honest ways of advertising a product, write to the authorities, or at least boycott that product and tell your friends and family about it.

Remember producers and retailers DO NOT have your best interests at heart - all they are interested in are sales which translate back into profits - it's all about MONEY!........your money!  So take back your power and become a conscious consumer.  It's about supply and demand. YOU are the demand - so start demanding what is best for you and your family.

Further interesting reading:
Become a Conscious Consumer
Throw off the Chains of Consumerism
The Ethical Consumer


  1. I feel exactly the same way about my cross stitch designs. I'm adding more products. BUT I'm giving pleasure when I do it.

    As far as consumerism goes ... I worry most about packaging. Why do we need individually wrapped biscuits and packets we throw away? I want to go back to the market system where you refil a jar or bottle. Aparently its too expensive to supply that way - money causing the problem again!

  2. I think one has to keep a balance. We have to still make a living but to it consciously. I also get so exasperated when I go shopping. I don't want fancy packaging that just get thrown away. Someone should start a 'refill supermarket' where you take your own packaging or at least have items packed in one recyclable container.