Refuse-niks on the rise

Kudos to Patagonia for its Black Monday advertising encouraging a form of #unconsumption while improving its own compet...

December 6, 2011

Kudos to Patagonia for its Black Monday advertising encouraging a form of #unconsumption while improving its own competitive position.

In addition to Patagonia’s 4Rs – Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle, I think its about time we introduced a new first R – Refuse.

We all have the will, but possibly not always the willpower, to refuse the efforts of marketers – including the iconic Patagonia – to persuade us to buy more stuff.

Just because an economy needs growth, does not mean that that growth must come at the expense of the earth.

If we are to be persuaded to pay good money for intangible benefits, then the less tangible, the less resource intensive and the less energy intensive these are, the better.  Recycling is a safety net, Reuse is vital, Repair is good, Reduction is great; but Refusal is better.  Reduction slows the cogs, but selective Refusal, is in the words of James Tobin – a little grit in the wheels of financial capitalism.

Refusal steals value from ‘the system of destruction’.  It mutualises brand value.  And this approach to stealing back value, this unconsumption, is well worth paying for…

If we can start to reward creation, not destruction we can find ways to pay for people not plunder.

By accurately and effectively valuing the life story of products, including their shared production and their common ownership, environmental capitalism can evolve into social capitalism.  The pieces of the product we end up paying tomorrow will be the pieces we steal today.

The time we invest in care and repair, in creativity and choice-editing, in individualising and socialising our choices – this is the value we can steal back from the system.  By adhering to the five Rs we create social value.  These will be the unconsumptive values that brand owners will seek offer us back in the decades ahead. And they cost nothing. So steal with pride.

Become a Refusenik.



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