Are the Swedes destroying our planet?

As far as I know, Swedish people are friendly, open and honest. Sweden has a steady democracy with good health care, equal opportunities and the Swedish people are among the happiest in the world. At the same time, they may be unintentionally and unknowingly- destroying our world.

Let’s not and say we did…

ikeaSince we’re all so very much aware of the fact that our planet is becoming more ‘tropical’ by the minute and we’re nearing the bottom of our supply of natural resources it’s become a popular trend to produce as  ‘environmentally friendly’ as possible. No more wood from tropical rainforest, CO2 neutral engines, reusing of waste water… But there is one way of production that beats all the others when it comes to ‘saving planet and resources’ and that is:

Not producing at all.

No matter how much you recycle, reuse and reinvent your production methods;  ‘not-producing’ is most durable. So if you buy a chair from a second hand shop, you’ll be doing the environment a larger favour than when you buy an eco-design one.

Value less than zero
Enter the Swedes. Or to be more precise, two international Swedish retail chains: Ikea and H&M. Well designed, cool and extremely affordable stuff for your home and body with love from Scandinavia. They mean no harm. And they do quite well. They’ve banned child-labour, they recycle, they use paper instead of plastic where they can (or so I imagine, they’re Swedes after all). But the problem is; they’re products are so low-quality (in terms of  ‘will last for a long time’) and so cheap that they’re killing the ‘second hand’ market.

If you’re looking for a piece of clothing or homeware to obtain and you can buy a second hand item for almost nothing, or a brand new (Swedish design!) for barely more, which would you choose? Most people would use the stuff that’s not damaged, broken, dented or used yet, so they can damage, break, dent or use it themselves. So something new gets produced and bought and the second hand one gets ‘thrown away’. Adding even more misery to this process: because the Ikea and H&M products are so low quality, when their owners get bored with them, their second hand value will be less than zero, so they will have to be dumped somewhere on the ever growing mountains of garbage we produce.

Less is… less
Of course, it’s not just those two companies. All companies are doing it. All electrical appliances for example are made to last a certain period instead of being made for ‘eternity’. Customers will need to buy a new product regularly, usually just after your guarantee has run out. And we call that ‘marketing’.

The answer is probably not that we should start producing in more environmentally friendly ways, the answer is we should start producing less. We should realise that we may already have enough stuff as it is.

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