Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Does Global Recession = Consumption Recession?

I hope so.
No really its an interesting question, which would deserve several PhD studies of its own. If the global recession hits peoples spending power by the amount that it has in the last few months in the UK. Could it bring about a sustained or a least temporary drop in consumption.

Could and would people stop just replacing products because there is a new one available that has newer features? Would people once again treasure their old CRT TV’s and stop replacing them with the environmentally destructive LCD types (see earlier post energy efficiency or governmental deficiency) that don't last anywhere near as long. Would municipal recycling centres see a decline in the amount of products (many still working) being thrown away each week. Could we ever become a society again that sees benefits in repairing products rather than disposing of them. Or cherishing products that last a long time and caring for them in order to further extend their life, rather than despairing at an older product because it is now the wrong colour or does match a new appliance.

Could we return even partially to the consumer attitudes pre 1960's plastics mass production boom, before the days of built in obsolescence and the disposable society. A society that invests in products expecting them to last half a life time like my old iron.

I really do think that in order to significantly reduce the environmental impact that we are creating we really need to go backwards rather than forwards. Perhaps this recession is the opportunity we all need to significantly change our attitudes. Perhaps even during this down turn a product service sector may become a stronger possibility with consumers renting rather than buying appliances to allow for them to be returned to the OEM at the end of life for remanufacturing, well we can only hope

Yes this may appear insensitive with the current rate of redundancies being announced each day in the UK. But if we could go back to a time of repairing and maintaining products or offer product service sectors this will create a lot more jobs in each home country rather than the far east.

However I doubt it is even on the governments consideration list as they hand the greedy and incompetent banks more of ours the tax payers money today whilst the interest rates have again been lowered punishing those who were careful enough to save rather than contributing to this over consumption disaster in the first place. I probably should stop ranting about the government though soon as I've decided when I finish my PhD I'm going to do something about this mess and apply for a civil service position hopefully in the strategy board to influence government policy. But we will see...

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