Following on from my recent post about buying Palm Oil free products, I was thinking about the choices we make as consumers, and the irresponsible actions of businesses.
Why do we need plastic straws in our drinks when there are sustainable alternatives?
Why do we need Christmas Crackers? These invariably go into the bin on the same day!
Why do we need little plastic “toys” or suchlike in cereal packets (or indeed Christmas Crackers)? It seems absurd that these add any value to anyone.
Why do some food items come packaged in both a box AND a bag?
In the digital age, do we really need to send paper birthday (and other occasion) cards around the world?
When was the last time you refused free plastic bags? We don’t need them most of the time, nor should we want them.
As a consumer, I feel underinformed at times about what the most sustainable option is for my purchase (often you don’t even get a choice)…as a business, I suspect they just want to make as much money as possible by hooking people in, but maybe we can alter the behaviour of businesses if we begin to shift away from cheap wasteful gimmicks and analyse “traditions”.
I recently stayed in an hotel which provided a little bag encouraging you to take any toiletries away with you. The sentiment is great as opposed to leaving partially used items in the room that must often just go in a bin, so I applaud it in that regard, but why is a bag required? Why not just a small sign or a note in a guestbook? As a concept it seems up there with humans producing a paper leaflet about saving trees. Scenic Hotels – this is not an ECO bag…it is a bag that did not need to be made at all…you have wasted resources in an effort not to waste resources. THINK!
One final musing on NZ TV, if you’ll permit me, and that is the extensive presence of the infomercial.
A lack of big business advertising clearly leaves a space for someone to want to try to flog what often appear to be naff products that you really don’t need. Who knew that you needed something to peel a clove of garlic? How about something to stand on that vibrates and supposedly helps you become thin and healthy? How about a nutrition extractor (aka a fancy blender)? Perhaps a military-style torch is the answer to your prayers? Maybe you could be tempted by an 8-shapes-in-1 pillow? Or how about the infomercial to end them all…life insurance – perhaps they realised that watching them makes you consider taking your own!
You name it, and if it’s really quite poor and cast off from abroad, then they’ll advertise it for several minutes at a time…and all without telling you the price. Boredom guaranteed. Who buys all this rubbish?
It is no wonder that On Demand TV seems so popular here in NZ, to the extent that they don’t seem to care too much about scheduling in the first place…great to have a retreat where you can dodge the majority of adverts.
And just one more thing, the frequency of adverts increases during a programme. If you are watching a movie then you often have no adverts for the first half hour, but by the end you are blessed with their presence every ten minutes or so. Annoying indeed.
When you have grown up with the BBC as your staple provider of entertainment and news, you realise when you go elsewhere in the world how good the BBC seems by comparison. Impartial (in the main), balanced, no adverts etc etc.
In NZ, there are the usual smattering of news providers on different channels but to be frank, in a country of 4.5 million people there isn’t a lot of news to report. In some ways this is great! It is great that a car crash with one fatality still makes it on to the news (especially if a foreign driver is involved), it is great that a murder still outrages people, it is great that someone holding up a petrol station, while wearing a onesie, to obtain cigarettes is newsworthy…but let us also be honest, in this desensitised age, it is not very exciting either.
To fill up the allotted news time, we end up with what appear to be sponsored stories about new products, new movies etc. I also feel at times like it is painful to see who can qualify as a reporter with their dubious command of the English language.
Which brings me to my final bit of info, channel Three here in NZ has started doing an entertainment show based around the news each weeknight with a studio audience. It is called The Project (if anyone wants to look it up online) and is based on an Australian format from what I have read. When I first heard about it I remember thinking that things must’ve really got desperate on already quite poor NZ TV, but I actually think it is really good! They somehow deliver the main stories and balance having a good laugh about them where they can with the serious messages and debate/opinion. Why shouldn’t the news be entertaining instead of depressing?
At the end of the day, some serious stories take some believing sometimes anyway so why not laugh about it all…has Donald Trump REALLY been elected President? Has the UK REALLY opted to leave the European Union?
In New Zealand, there is a real culture of Do-It-Yourself. From building homes to renovating homes, the isolation of the country and a lack of nearby tradesmen in many places has probably facilitated this culture of people being more self-sufficient.
This translates onto the TV also, because after thinking about food TV last time out, it then occurred to me how many DIY shows are on TV. There are shows from NZ, Australia, Canada, USA and the UK all about this same thing. I can actually understand this a little more here in NZ because of the culture and I suppose these shows give people ideas on how they might change their abode but how many is too many?
But then I wondered something else, on one Australian show where it is as plain as day that they are shopping in Bunnings (a DIY store which I believe has just arrived in the UK), are shows like this really just a blatant sponsored attempt to get you to spend money in those places?
While watching a cookery show of some description on TV recently I was wondering why on earth we, as people, are so obsessed with watching shows wherein a large part of it is people stuffing their faces and telling us how good it tastes (some of whom have cooked it first)?
Does this seem strange to anyone else?
If I sat you right next to someone and asked you to watch them eat, complete with the sound effects, you would probably think it was disgusting, so why do we have so many TV shows about it? Most of the time you won’t be trying to cook it yourself anyway. It doesn’t really make sense.
While on holiday recently I did not have telephone or internet access for a week. Not because it wasn’t offered by the hotel but because I chose not to want it for this time.
It actually felt quite liberating not to be a slave to answering emails, text messages, responding to Facebook posts or even to writing blog posts (but it is nice to do so now). I instead used any downtime to get back to reading and engaging with the world around me! It has made me think about the way I live my life.
It led me to think about whether the Internet (and I will include modern smart phones in the heading even though they are different), one of the most impressive inventions in recent history is a blessing or a curse…what do you think?
- You have knowledge at your fingertips. You are never lost for answers to almost any question you can think of.
- You can always find where you are and what is around you. It is truly remarkable how your location can be pinned down.
- It is incredibly easy (and cheap) to keep in touch with friends and family, do online banking, keep across your interests etc. Time saving.
- It has enabled all of us to record our own lives and thoughts in some way for sharing and future posterity (where is it all stored?)
- It can be hard to escape…think of those who think it is OK to send you emails in the dead of night or phone you in the evening (depending on your job of course).
- We are supposedly now breeding a generation of lower-IQ individuals who are reliant on computers and all it brings. The knowledge contained therein cannot always be trusted.
- You actually waste your time looking at it – it tells you so much that you really don’t need to know but people still become addicted to it. Surely we could all be doing something else?
- Is anything really private any more?
I recently noticed that my Facebook app was taking up a huge amount of space on my iPad – around 700MB.
I did a bit of digging by asking Uncle Google and apparently this is a known issue caused by caching (Spotify also does this) which Facebook are not doing anything about. I decided I would delete the app and start again as this was the only reported way to “solve” the problem. This crashed my iPad and I then had to do a factory reset. Such fun.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I realised somewhere along this journey that I was spending far too much of my time in Facebookland when I could be doing something more useful so I did not reinstall the app. I decided I would have a break from it altogether and just log in occasionally via the internet. Problem solved.
I did wonder what this means for my keeping in touch with people and I realised that so much of what I and other people like, share or post is quite honestly meaningless nonsense – if you could only filter somehow to genuine life-related posts it would be great. When did we stop focussing on actual meaningful conversation and relationships in life? Aren’t those your real friends?
Something to think about.