When was your ‘good old days’? I’m sure every generation have had their own concept of what was good before that has now been lost. But life on Planet Earth definitely seems to have taken a spurt in the changes of how reality of everyday is lived and experienced.
I’m in my twenties and I sound like a retiree, oh well, let me explain.
We live in a consumer society
Oxford Dictionary defies consumer society as “a society in which the buying and selling of goods and services is the most important social and economic activity.” Sound familiar?
We are continuously persuaded to buy and sell, and to think about buying and selling. We are addressed as consumers and it is taught from early on that determining our identity and expressing who we are happens through consuming.
It’s not only the salesmen anymore whose work days consist of marketing and wondering how to increase value, we are all somehow connected to this through work and personal life.
The rise of consumerism started in the years following WW2 and the birth of the great generation. With the emergence of internet, then smartphones and social media, we are available twenty-four seven but connected, maybe not so much…
Which brings me to my next point.
We live a life of poor connections
This summer we spent few weeks on the road on our self converted campervan doing simple things: hiking, talking, making dinner, listening to music and just listening.
I once again noticed a weird feeling of stillness creeping in and my body feeling unburdened. It felt extra-ordinary not be bombarded with continuing virtual stimulus but only with signals of the present, coming from things and people that were actually then and there with me.
This new found connection to present things made me realize that this was an area in my life where my values and actions don’t always quite match, someone might call that a value gap.
Most everyone says they value authenticity and honest connections in relationships and in life generally, but too rarely do we meet people face-to-face and even then just briefly. Many of us might feel burdened by the expectation to have an active social life.
But maybe, all this restlessness and exhaustion is due to too much stimulus and too little connection, to nature, to people, to ourselves, to our values and needs.
We at VAI-KØ believe that connection is crucial to what we do. Staying connected shows up in what we do and how we do it, having close connections to our clients is what makes or breaks us and staying connected to the people that make our products is the only way to ensure that our principles of ethical and ecological clothing production solidify in real life.
Breaking down the big words
Living Alternative is a holistic concept for us. It’s paying attention to your living habits on every aspect of life. How you consume, what you eat, how you treat other people, do you love the life you live and are you willing to make changes?
All this adds up in living more simply. Rather than investing our money on buying and having more, how about investing our resources on living more and giving more. Maybe connection is actually a by-product of simplifying, simple as that.
If all this talk about Living Alternative seems hard to grasp, here a few concrete catches!
Being a conscious consumer
Do you know where your clothes come from and if the people who made them were paid fairly for their job? Have you thought about the effects manufacturing of your clothes have to nature and animals?
It’s ok if you haven’t thought of these things before.
Customers are often given the impression that neither they nor the operators in the industry have the power to get information on who makes the clothes, in what kind of conditions and at what cost.
The truth is, you do have power! So use it for good.
A few tips to get you started with consuming consciously
- Buy less: Think if you really need the garment or product.
- Buy second hand: These items have already been made so no new resources are needed for you to have a “new” piece of clothing.
- Buy certified: This means the social and environmental impacts are regulated and supervised by third parties.
- Ask questions: Companies give a lot of value to feedback, so just by asking simple questions like, where the clothes were made, if workers are paid enough to support them, if workers have freedom of association, or how the company takes environmental issues into account, can make a big difference.
Being a conscious omnivore
Eating right can be a great source of happiness and purpose! I’m sure you’ve heard by now that bringing red meat from farm to your plate takes up humongously more natural resources and strains the environment much more than other sources of nutrition.
Favouring vegetarian alternatives will, in addition to taking some burden off our planet, make it easier to consume all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to maintain their vitality and free our thoughts from only thinking of how to survive for the day.
And don’t forget, the same questions of what, where, who and how apply to food products the same as textiles and other usables. Especially when it comes to products that are made in far away countries, such as coffee, chocolate and tropical fruits.
One might also dare to ask if we really need to have pineapples and avocados delivered all year round by planes and boats from the other side of the planet, or if maybe local apples and pumpkins would do.
A few tips to get you started with eating consciously
- Buy less, make more: Avoid prepared and processed foods, favour raw fruits and vegetables and pick one new recipe every week to learn!
- Buy local: It’s waste of resources to transport food around, support your local producers and you’ll get the freshest ingredients.
- Buy certified: When purchasing long-distance products, choose certified and you’ll now your banana farmer gets fairly paid and can afford to put their kids to school.
- Ask questions: Ask if your fave candy bar or coffee is made sustainably and if the company would consider going under a certificate.
Now you know what our thinking is behind the concept of Live Alternative. Do these thoughts motivate or challenge you? Join us, no matter where you are on your journey. None of us are there yet :)