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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Guest Blog : Thomas Bray (Part 2) : How Our Social Structure Needs Change.
The following is Guest Blog article produced by Thomas Bray of Direct Trade Supplies which examines how changing of some our fundamental attitudes and behaviours could enable us to live more sustainably and reward the development of new social values and goals.

Addressing the Advertising of Consumerism

Look at the way we are indoctrinated from birth to adulthood, we are plied with materialistic goals and aspirations which are considered to be the only real signs of success and integrity.  We are constantly exposed to psychological warfare and propaganda to help shape our brain to a certain way of thinking. We are controlled by a select number of invisible figures, intertwined in leading commercial businesses which share staggering profits and dish out suspicious backhanders for the benefit of only those at the top. But what if it was different, what if the ambitions they played out to us concentrated on contributing to a healthier and happier planet earth, with the preservation of nature and the environment at the forefront of their demands.

I’m not saying take away every element of materialism but pin it back to second or third place. Success shouldn’t be emphasised by how many cars you have, how big your home is or how many designer brand names you wear. Perhaps there should be a cap on how much consumer content can be used or at least produce enough content that concentrates on the environment to help balance the output. We need mankind to see through the object-orientated attractions, so they can find new and often free ways to gain their life highs.

Reconnecting With Nature

The odd fleeting campaign is not enough to tackle this pandemic. Look at the money spent on advertising brand names each year, look at gutter journalists raking and making up nonsense for their paper's political gain and look at the attention given towards commercialised sports – condense all of this energy, resource and funding into something that categorically means a lot more than all of the above; then, we might be onto something. Unfortunately at the moment it seems that numbers in a bank account is deemed more important than the future of our wonderful plants, animals and the environs that surround them. And until we bridge that gap and rediscover a love for the natural and spiritual gifts on earth – we will continue to be stuck in a smoky machine that stops for nothing, even if it means destroying the only platform it’s been given to explore.

Educating From An Early Age

I believe a complete overhaul of our existing social structure is required. From an early age parents and schools should teach our children about the importance of planet earth, the way in which we should interact with it and what steps we have to take to make sure it has a bright future. Just like the core subjects of English, Maths and Science, there should be a great emphasis on Earth studies. A reshuffle in the curriculum should hopefully plant the seed early on. As a side note, for poorer communities there must be a structure in place at school that can guide youngsters out of their situation and deter them from being attracted to criminal activities, which are sometimes the only visible career path they can take. This kind of allowance for a ‘how to get out the ghetto’ studies has been spoken about before, mainly by cultural commentators, but it has yet to fully gain traction or be implemented in inner city schooling.

Commercial Outlets Taking Responsibility

Businesses will also have to share a responsibility in curbing their pollution, from the amount of paper they get through to the fumes coming out of a factory. Although there are certain environmental laws and guidelines already in place these could be tightened and a threat to close down business, no matter how big or influential, would be issued if they fail to comply.

Obviously a small company will produce a lot less pollution compared to a larger one, so this means the requirements of how much pollution is allowed should be scaled up in proportion to a company’s size, operation and the nature of its business. Businesses currently have to pay environmental tax but there could be further schemes that see a particular percentage of profits filter into a piggy bank which can be accessed by leading charities, ecologists and campaign groups. These experts will then use this money to fund new inventions or secure protection for a vast range of natural subjects, from animals to the atmosphere.

There needs to be a truly independent body that monitors the amount of waste and pollution a business is producing. Should there be anything that inhibits or crosses over the guidelines the business should be instantly approached to find out why. If there are no appropriate reasons to why the pollution guidelines were breached then action should be taken, no matter who they are. We need to see an end to backhanders, favours and slipping through the net, the rules must not bent just because of who the perpetrator is. We are all accountable and no matter how powerful the organisation is - it should be treated just like the next.

Technology Will Play Its Part

There are some shining lights, such as the tweak to conserve more energy by introducing the influx of LEDs, which one day are said to completely replace and phase out CFL (Compact Fluorescent Bulbs). LEDs are by no means the end game for energy efficient lighting but at the moment they offer the only true alternative to other energy hungry lamps. What’s more LED modules are flexible and adaptable, and can be inserted into tiny pieces of technology which could never be achieved by previous cumbersome lamps.

There should be a real demand to make ordinary and well established items into greener and healthier things. People shouldn’t be put off by the magnitude of change and the opportunities to do so should be easily accessible. Engineers and innovators should be trying hard to make these products and projects more approachable for the masses, rather than offering solutions that take a lot of time, money and a radical overhaul of existing schedules/routines.

Helping Others To Improve Their Lives and Environment

Another issue that is currently being tackled by small design teams is the use of kerosene lamps in off-grid locations and humanitarian disasters. For years kerosene lamps have been the only light source for people living in war zones, locations that have suffered natural disasters and areas such as sub-saharan Africa that live off-grid with no electricity. Although kerosene lamps offer essential light, the Intermediate Technology Development Group and World Health Organisation state that the indoor air pollution from kerosene lamps and other similar indoor lighting fuels has resulted in more than 1.5 million deaths per year; contributing to lung disease, respiratory issues and eye-related deficiencies. With these shocking stats in mind, lighting designers and innovators have tried to find alternative ways to provide light and reduce deaths, which in-turn will also reduce pollution. One team called Solight Design have created a product called the SolarPuff, a durable, flexible and mobile lighting device that soaks up natural sunlight during the day, ready to turn into artificial light when it gets dark.

A simple yet effective product like the SolarPuff has the potential to be distributed across the world, to those that need it the most. It is pending approval with world governing bodies and has been piloted during the Haiti Earthquake in 2010. The positive outcome for these kinds of energy efficient lighting systems are endless - they can light up a classroom full of youngsters eager to learn, light up a home for navigational necessities and make intruders think twice about entering a property. One of the most damning statistics attached to off-grid locations without light, particularly in Sub Saharan Africa, is that a power outage increases the probability of rape by 20%. This is another important reason to address these problems and bring a solution that not only changes lives but also improves the world’s climate.

The Mission Is Achievable

Although these blueprints for change are positive - is it enough? In short, no it isn’t. We need to be assessing each and every pollutant and coming up with new ways to reduce its risk. We need to overhaul the entire structure and pull together in the same direction, whether it’s a regular citizen recycling every night or it’s a billionaire business in the oil trade - we need this to be a consensus all over and a mission that is followed by humanity as a whole.

There are 7 billion people in this world and it’s about time we took responsibility of where we live and what surrounds us. We have so many things on our side to make change possible  - intelligence, technology, kindness and willingness, all of these points and more can be drawn upon to make the dreams of a better planet earth a reality. We need to put religion and conflict to one side, and view humanity as a one living organism. At the end of the day we are all just body bags of DNA existing on a spinning rock in the air, but it just so happens that this spinning rock is full of amazing and important natural furnishings that need protecting to ensure its flourishing future.

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