While walking home from my gym one morning I discovered a shop that’d recently opened on this street. It buys, sells, and trades clothing and apparel. Buying or trading is usually not offered by second-hand shops and I thought it was wonderful that someone went a step forward in “vintage shopping”. It gives people a bigger incentive to recycle. A few days later I took to the shop one of my jackets that I hardly wore anymore. It was a decent jacket in a pretty good condition so I thought I’d be able to exchange it for a nice warm sweater if nothing more. But it was turned down! When I asked the reason for it the shopkeeper told me that the brand didn’t sell much. “It’s stupid, I know and I’m sorry but we have to look at what people are interested in”. I wanted to reaffirm the guy about how stupid it really was given their business model that is meant to promote a bigger cause. But suddenly yellow mangoes came to mind and I realized how naïve I was being. Yes. Yellow mangoes. Let me tell you an interesting story about them.
A couple of years back I got to interview a government official for a class assignment. He was from the Ministry of Trade in the Netherlands and interestingly enough, was responsible for managing exports from Pakistan/ Afghanistan region. He told me how much he liked the mangoes from Pakistan and how unfortunate it was that those delicious things couldn’t be exported to Europe. The reason, he told me, was that historically, the mangoes in Europe have mostly been imported from South America which tend to be greenish-red-purple in color not yellow. The European market was not used to yellow mangoes, he said, so no matter how heavenly the mangoes from Pakistan are, they wont sell in Europe. How stupid again, right? But unfortunately true. Our choices matter a huge deal and the ones we make collectively can dictate policies both public and private. This is also one of the reasons why corporations benefit so much from misinformation campaigns as I mentioned in my previous post.
Any significant action on an issue as big as the climate requires a systemic change because they require infrastructure and significant financial investment. But at the same time it is our responsibility to hold our governments accountable to their actions and commitments on dealing with climate change. The COP23 has shown that despite devastating hurricanes, floods, pollution events all over the globe our governments have failed to provide any consolation about the future. So, the only way to hold our governments (and by association big business) accountable is by voicing our opinions through the choices we make (sale-shoppers please take note). The corporate interests in delaying action on climate related issues are huge and international conferences provide yet another forum for government officials to indulge in personal interests. Here’s a peek into our battleground:
The issues that are present here are many: ignorance, denial, misguided beliefs, and plain old greed. They inflict countries across the globe no matter how much or less developed they are. The worst part is that the longer they go on, the better it serves corporate interests. And yet, for us, oh-so-civilized population, it is too inconvenient to not buy bottled water; it is too much of a hassle to get our energy suppliers changed, and what difference does it make if a bunch of hippies start buying from farmers markets instead of supermarkets, right? Think about it again. If our collective choice can influence the kind of mangoes that will be imported and the brand of clothing sold, then who is to say it can’t keep our businesses and governments in check?
*title borrowed from Loesje.