This week a must watch from VPRO. VPRO is a Dutch platform and so, this series is in Dutch. The Prijsvechter (‘the pricefighter’) is about consumerism. The fact that we buy so much stuff for so little money. And at what as expense? We live in a consumeristic society today and that’s taking it’s toll.
The series consists of three episodes. The first episode is called ‘goedkooplust’ (the lust for something cheap). We’re going shopping with a big fan of the Action (a big store with cheap stuff, like Walmart), to see what she’s buying. This part always hurts, to see people consume a great amount of stuff just because it’s cheap. Such a waste. In this episode you also see experts, they’re explaining how we as consumers can be influenced. I learned for example that our decision to buy something is 5% conscious and 95% unconscious behavior.
Even though stuff has become even cheaper, more people are becoming poor. Income hasn’t risen the past years, but we can buy more with our income. We can afford this because of globalization. This means cheap labor in other countries. One of the hosts of the show is going to China to see how our stuff is made. Undercover, because importers don’t want to co-operate in the show, neither does the Chinese government. The minimum wage of a Chinese person lies between 1,40 euros and 1,90 euros. In The Netherlands this lies between 10 and 15 euros. And, so we’re buying ourself unemployed. We’re not supporting our local economy here and so people lose their job because production is shipped to countries like China.
In the third and last episode we see what extreme consumerism does to our environment. We’ve reached a species extinction rate which is a thousand times as fast as before the Anthropocene. We are heading to mass extinction, alike the dinosaurs. The more stuff we produce, the cheaper it becomes and the more we buy. It’s a vicious circle. And because stuff is so cheap, we throw away more and more. This has massive consequences as well. Each year, 8 million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans. Scientists predict that our oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050. Right now, plastic is already everywhere. Research has found plastic in Chardonnay, beer, honey and more. You can’t see it, but plastic everywhere.