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Monday, December 21, 2015

Guest Blog : Changing Consumer Culture... One LED At A Time

Changing Consumer Culture... One LED At A Time
I sit here as a 26 year old man, shaking my head at the state of the world. At the recent COP21 (Climate Conference) in Paris, our leaders made all sorts of grand promises about reducing humanity’s impact on the world. Despite it being good to debate and share ideas, they failed to explain how our growth-driven economic model is going to reach this summit and what strides we all need to take to make a better world possible.

In this opinion piece I would like to explore how our economic model and the associated consumer culture that drives it - needs to change, if we are all to play our part in helping breathe new life back into nature’s foundations. In order to turn our noble dreams into a tangible reality we all need to face some cold hard truths about modern life and our own expectations. Ultimately, we need to challenge ourselves to think and act in new ways, which don’t necessarily revolve around endless growth and consumption.

We are all consumers now, but are there any alternative ways of leading full and rich lives without defining ourselves as consumers?

I’m talking about a complete culture change, a shift in attitudes, right across the board and at every social level. It is no longer enough for a handful of campaigners to bang drums and wave banners. We require mainstream change by considering how the millions of everyday actions can be made less harmful - quickly, easily and affordably. There are positive signs that this is possible, take the last 10 years in the lighting industry, many of the light bulbs we use today have become 90% more energy efficient and new technologies have plummeted in price as they continue to be made in their billions.

But what are the next steps? Plastic bags, cars, homes? How do we learn the lessons from the giant leaps in energy efficient lighting? How do we apply this model to every area of life?

Step 1 : Take stock of what’s around you.

What do you own, how do you interact and what can be improved upon. This can be anything from how you get to work to how you light your home.

Step 2 : Take the first step
When trying to change, taking the first step can often feel the hardest. It is therefore important to break the changes you want to make it small pieces and to allow yourself some early successes. My recommendation is therefore to implement some of the smaller and more achievable improvements first. After this you can tackle the bigger changes, from firmer foundations.

Step 3 : Measure what you monitor
In order to remain motivated, and sustain your efforts over the long-term, it is important to measure what you plan to monitor, so that your successes (and failures) can be quantified and used to show you what has been effective.

Step 4 : Share what works
Raising awareness of the changes you’ve made and demonstrating these have worked will enable you to scale up what you have learnt and help your environment. Try to influence your peers to make similar strides.

Step 5 : Build a team
Once you have some success under your belt, why not think about what you and others can do to tackle the bigger picture. Maybe set up a group with like-minded individuals and build a team with a clear goal and perhaps even a sustainable business model, that will allow your efforts to build and grow over the years.

The Transition Towns Handbook can offer some great advice on how to do this.
Step 6 : Lighting the way: On a more personal note, one of the easiest ways to reduce energy consumption is to be savvy with heating and lighting. The majority of energy efficient light bulbs, such as LEDs, are now produced to accommodate a vast range of fixtures. So the next time you need to replace your halogen and incandescent bulbs why not consider using some eco friendly LEDs and (cough) visiting our light bulb store at  Direct Trade Supplies.

Change is never easy - especially when you are trying to change a whole culture - but I hope that the steps I ave proposed will give you something useful to think about.

Written by Thomas Bray from  Direct Trade Supplies, Electrical Wholesaler.