Women’s role in saving our environment – serial purchaser or sustainable saviour?
The purpose of this blog is to question what we buy.
Women, we love passionately and forever, and we love deeply. We love our families, our lovers, our partners, our friends, our kids and our animals. But we also love stuff, we love nice, clean houses, matching cushions, beautiful art works, funky furniture and that’s not going near the stuff we buy to make ourselves feel beautiful.
Who is the “Ideal Customer”?
When I set up this collective upcycle business it was because I wanted to help others. To make it all work though, it has to make enough profit to be sustainable in the future. Profit making requires knowledge about marketing and so I headed down the rabbit warren of marketing strategy.
When I have had to describe my “ideal customer” it is always a woman – because she is my person with a conscience but also one who spends money on ethical consumer items. Like any entrepreneur, I automatically start sizing up the competition and examining who is their “ideal customer”. Sure, lo and behold they are also women too. When looking at a male product, again I am told that women are the purchasers for approximately 40% of their market as they are buying the products for the men in their house too.
It got me thinking about consumerism and women. What role do women play in consumption? What role do males play in our current levels of product consumption? Who is marketing to us to make us feel this way about stuff?
My role in consumption
Don’t get me wrong, I have been guilty of the matching cushion buying, funky furniture purchasing and fast fashion. I have looked around the malls, cutesy shops and have loved all the shiny pretty things. I love the books, clothes, house decorations and I love the stuff for the garden and the art and don’t get me started on earrings!
In admitting that my past personal consumption has been enjoyable, I have looked around my house and garden to question what it all means. Has all this stuff made my life easier, more beautiful, more admirable? When stuff that I’ve ordered online arrives wrapped in plastic straight to my door, I wonder – is it all necessary? How durable is this product and how long will it be before it breaks?
All the media attention being focused on the absolute urgency for this generation to sort out the planet’s problems, has made me seriously question my role in consumerism. I want to do right and not buy pretty things that will only last a day and then become this horrible burden on the planet that makes me feel bad, but I also like nice things. And there’s some things I have to buy because my household won’t run without them.
As the main purchasers of all things, women are at the forefront of the problem with disposal. Let’s face it, we are the ones that do the lion’s share of the organising and shopping for families and homes. But this also means that if we have an issue with consumption, then women are the ones with the power to turn it around.
Questioning and providing alternate consumer choices
A great deal of my time is spent thinking about the many issues facing people and planet. From my social media feed, you can see I post a lot about environmental issues, that the landfills are filling up, bio-diversity is being lost, climate change is urgent, the list is depressingly long. The purpose of The Re-Creators social enterprise is to bring about change in the way we consume – to offer sustainable alternatives in the form of upcycled goods.
Upcycling to me means creativity, looking through Pinterest and admiring others immensely creative vision. It also means sustainability, I’m told by older generations that it was always a way of life and that it is only the last few decades where we have turned to demanding that everything is new, plastic, and doesn’t have a life past a year.
Women influencing future generations
If women buy most of the things, then we’re the ones making the decisions. Our sons and daughters see us doing so, and then we set the standard of what they will do and see as right. How we solve the problem of what to buy, is essentially how our kids will end up doing that.
We can teach them to just buy whatever we need, or we can show them how to be more thoughtful about what they buy, that we don’t have to buy plastic, or new. This way they will consider themselves as well as others, and understand their place in community, planet and even universe.
A Female Green Movement
Our planet is under threat, and while I don’t want to get too heavy about the environmental issues that face us today – we do need some positive direction towards how we can make a difference.
Female decision-makers, women who are agents of change can be our saviours towards a sustainable future, setting new patterns around consumption.
Why choose Upcycled goods?
We are all after innovative solutions for climate change, something radical that will save the planet all in one go. In the meantime, why do we need to be radical? We already know what we need to do. Its Dorothy’s shoes all over again, she was wearing them all along. And if we add a little red glitter to something already created we can have something gorgeous and iconic without starting again, just by using what is already in the world.
Upcycled things are amazing. They are hand crafted with love and care. They may not be new, but they are beautiful, useful and something that has already proven that it can stand the test of time.
Women have the power to change the way in which we purchase moving forward and change the demand from new to upcycled. Women can make it not only acceptable, but cool and modern to buy something upcycled.
FYI - upcycled things can be bought off the internet and delivered to you just like the new stuff! You get all of the convenience and none of the guilt.