Since becoming a feminist I'm more inclined to question. Where does the food come from that goes into my mouth? who made the clothes on my back and the technology in my hands? I don't have all the answers but I have an increased capacity to challenge and research.
The more I think about the nature of business and consumerism the more I realise that food, clothes and technology that are cheap and ever-changing are a result of human, animal and environmental exploitation.
Often I don't know what the process was to create a smartphone, pair of jeans or burger. I might not know what the source was - the raw ingredients and who assembled it or how it got to the shop. I just know I want it and how much I am willing to pay for it.
I'm more inclined to question - why do I want this item? Is it a real need or because I have been manipulated by an advert / the media (I saw it on TV, in a magazine) because my friends have it? What use will I make of it?
And then I question how much I am willing to pay. Am I willing to pay more for non-dairy products? (to help cows and the planet - see Cowspiracy) am I willing to buy vegetarian burgers, sausage and mince? Can I buy fewer clothes / accessories or buy used online / in charity shops? Do I need a new smartphone or laptop or can I get mine fixed / use old handsets?
I think about the cost to our planet - do I constantly need new phones, laptops, tablets, clothes, car, bags, shoes? The planet does not have inexhaustable supplies. We're mining, we're digging, we're fishing, we're fracking and we will use up all these sources of energy and raw materials and run out. My son's life, future generations will suffer.
I think about cheap labour in China, India and elsewhere - people working far longer hours than we are allowed to work, in conditions our laws prevent, children working, people dying so that cheap tops can be flown into the likes of Primark and I can keep up with fashion. The cheaper it is, the more someone else has paid the price?
Profit making, economic GDP, growth, consumption - this is not good for our health or our Earth. I want change. In small ways, in big ways. For example - why can't there be a TV show like The Apprentice that is about social enterprises? There are diverse business models - including co-operatives.
Why isn't thinking about human, animal and environmental impact rewarded by those in power? Why is it charities carry out work that should be done by governments and paid for by our taxes?
I'm not perfect. I'm not a vegetarian or vegan. I still impulse buy. I'm still seduced by price tags and shine. But I want to know about the (non-financial) cost.
It is not easy to make change. We have complicated and pressurised lives. I don't mean to make anyone feel guilty. I don't mean to make myself feel guilty. I just want to learn more and take small steps to improve what I can, when I can.
Can you help me? What have you learnt? In what ways have you made positive change in your life? (Please leave your suggestions on our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/femalearts/posts/1114929235237772 or tweet us https://twitter.com/femalearts @femalearts or me @topgirls x)
(c) Wendy Thomson 2016
Some suggestions from friends:
Mooncups for periods (instead of sanitary towels / tampons) http://www.mooncup.co.uk see also eco-friendly Monthlies https://monthlies.co.uk
The documentary 'Earthlings' http://www.nationearth.com/earthlings-1/
Get involved in local/community projects
Ethical Consumer reports on companies http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/. Fairphone on supply chain transparency (eco friendly smartphone) https://www.thephone.coop/fairphone/