First off, this isn’t a topic I would normally post but I found the idea somewhat compelling. I could write a book on ethical consumption (hmmm…) but in the interest of time and boring you to death, I’ll keep things short and sweet.
Being unemployed provides me with the gift of time. And when I have time, I tend to think…a lot. What job was do I want, discovering my “purpose,” dieting, deciding to exercise – you know, all the easy stuff.
When I was thinking about my jobs in the past, I looked around at all the people in the cafe and wondered what they did. I made a little game out of it, trying to guess what each person did. The majority were students with a few professionals sprinkled in. Then, I began to think about the workforce in general. As I set my cup down on the (relatively) clean tabletop, I tried to guess how many people it took to deliver this particular beverage.
I came to the conclusion that it was too many to count.
Think about it – there are coffee growers, the roasters, packers and distributors. There’s the people who designed the cup, the lid, the scientists who created the plastic coating keeping the cup “leak proof,” the cardboard sleeve, the team who created the message on the outside of the cup and the printer who puts it there. Not to mention there’s the construction team who designed and built the store, and the small army of employees brewing, pressing and tending cash.
…all so I can have a tall americano, right here, right now.
My point is (and I know you were looking for one) that we’ve become so numb to convenience, we fail to realize the numerous, every day tasks necessary to complete our final product. Our culture has become so elitist, so instantly gratified, we barely give thought to the amount of labor that goes into one cup of coffee. We don’t appreciate things, or people, because our conveniences have become disposable.
I wonder if purchasing habits would shift if the public took a minute to understand the myriad of ideas, the numerous visits to the “drawing board,” and the buckets of capital that goes into each and every product on the shelf. Would we purchase more domestically manufactured goods? Would more companies invest money into domestic labor, instead of outsourcing? Would the “green” movement gain faster momentum? Would the “convenience” paradigm shift more towards appreciation, thereby curbing frivolous spending? Who’s to say.
Next time you go to the mega-super store, as you pass by the countless items on the shelf, try to imagine what took place to put it there. And, think about whether or not purchasing that product makes you a better person.