I have a daughter who turned 11 this year. It took her 2 months of living in Sweden to realise that she didn’t have the ” correct wardrobe” to fit in. Her non branded, not so tight PEP store jeans shifted further and further back in her wardrobe. She recently told my husband and I, that not having an I phone made her feel like an outsider. IS THIS EUROPE TODAY?
When we lived in Zambia I felt we were able to protect our children from “commercialism”. But urban Africa is changing. A recent study carried out in urban settings in Africa by McKinsey South Africa shows that Private consumption in Africa is higher than in India or Russia; it rose by $568 billion from 2000 to 2010.6 From 2012 to 2020, consumer-facing industries are expected to grow a further $410 billion.
In Sweden I am involved with a network of businesses who recently held an exhibition called “Hållbar Jul “ (sustainable christmas) promoting sustainable consumerism with a focus on ethical, ecological and recycled brands. The need to address overconsumption in the west is critical. Currently, the developed nations of the world consume at a rate of 32, while the rest of the developing worlds’ 5.5 billion people consume at a rate closer to 1.
The Slow Movement which advocates a cultural shift toward slowing down life’s pace, came about in protest to fast foods in the 1980s. Slow food encourages the enjoyment of regional produce, traditional foods, which are often grown organically. The philosophy has extended its boundaries to include Slow fashion which promotes “quality over quantity”.A unified representation of all the “sustainable”, “eco”, “green”, and “ethical” fashion movements. Slow living is the choice to live consciously with the goal of enhancing personal, community and environmental well-being.
Professor Guttorm Fløistad summarizes the philosophy, stating:
The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today. It could however be useful to remind everyone that our basic needs never change. The need to be seen and appreciated! It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a little love! This is given only through slowness in human relations. In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal.