Think about our consumption

Thinking about our consumption

DAY

We're screwed, we eat too much, sang Alain Souchon. For Louis-Philippe Pratte, the author of this book halfway between the story and the practical guide, this would translate to: “We are screwed, we consume too much”. Growth has had its day, he says, we must make room in our lives to breathe easier. Pratte, an industrial designer who initially worked in the automotive sector, gradually realized that designers like him were at the heart of the creation of new products and that it was their responsibility to integrate the principles of eco-design into our reflection and in our approach”.

And it is precisely his most original reflection that he makes us discover, he who at the time of his university studies found himself in Germany, rubbing shoulders with the major car manufacturers, including Mazda, where he did a long internship. The best opportunities were offered to this young Quebecer eager to conquer the world. But the idealistic designer wasn't ready to take the leap and sacrifice his attachment to his origins for an international career of endlessly designing, year after year, new SUV models that make those of the previous year look old and obsolete.

He then became aware of our way of consuming… to the point of over-consumption. 

“I work hard, therefore I consume”, such seems to be our currency. Otherwise why so much effort? Our cupboards, drawers, garages, attics are overflowing, he laments. And the designers, these great forgotten ecological thinkers, have become masters in the art of making us love a new product as well as making us hate it a year later. 

“We are at the forefront of this scourge, says the eminent designer, because we know how to make you love a product, to lose interest in a year. […] Our talent lies in our ability to surprise and seduce you, again, again and again. […] However, we are guilty. We are actually at the very heart of the crime (considering that excessive consumption is destroying our planet). 

Consume less

< p>Moreover, consuming ecologically is not a panacea. What is needed is to consume less. But why is it so difficult to consume less? he asks. And he points to our ego, a multiple ego: shoes, a car, sunglasses that give an original look, etc., everything that we think constitutes our identification. They want us to believe that we are what we consume.

Not only is the yard full, not only are our landfills overflowing, so much so that our garbage is sent outside our borders, we are now increasingly buying from a distance. 

“ We order products through Instagram, which are sent directly to us from China. We have gradually lost all notion of distance.” 

And the author wonders if these new roads are not going against nature, thus threatening our lives.

The arrival of AI (artificial intelligence) is hardly reassuring, because this technology is directly part of a consumption process. With AI, we can now understand our desires and “needs”. Moreover, “Amazon patented, a few years ago, a technology allowing to deliver a product even before it was ordered (called anticipatory delivery)”. 

Choices will necessarily have to be made. Choose verticality, which the Y symbolizes, “the process leading to a vertical life, a life that is embodied in the present moment (being) and detachment from form (having). Free yourself from “gogosses” and other “nonsense”. 

Design must reinvent itself, concludes the author.

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The Inglorious Thirty/Political Scenes 1991-2021

The French philosopher Jacques Rancière, a fine political observer, has collected his written reflections on 30 years of current events that have marked the course of recent history. A book that caused a stir then announced “the end of history” and the end of ideologies, as the Soviet Union collapsed, which would upset the world political spectrum. The coming of a dispassionate world where consensus and peace would prevail. 

Thirty years later, it is clear that these prophecies have not come true. Let us only remember that not long ago, the president of “the greatest democracy in the world” launched his fanatical hordes to storm the Capitol under the false pretext that the elections had been stolen from him. 

This book takes stock of our indecisions, shakes up our certainties and fuels the battle of ideas. As the late Pierre Falardeau said, “we will have all death to sleep in.”

The ethics we need

Pandemic, allegations of sexual misconduct, systemic racism, public apologies to First Nations, cultural appropriation, immigration and migration crisis, gendered pronouns, global warming, human rights, national sovereignty, wars and peace, etc., the topics of discussion and discord are not lacking, here as elsewhere. Are we ready to discuss with the other, which implies watering down their wine, or, on the contrary, are we fed up with compromise and do we prefer to stick to our positions? 

This book is for all those who doubt… and also for all those who think they know everything, although “I do not believe that it is psychologically possible to transmit knowledge to people who do not doubt . […] It is better to discuss, to reconcile, to share truly ethical convictions and to live together”, concludes the author. An antidote to the fanatics and vigilantes “who are multiplying on the side of the religious, the conservatives, the “wokes” of the radical left and the ultracentrist liberals and who seem more and more inclined to twist our arm to make us adopt their beliefs”.