Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Think Globally Act Locally

“Think globally, act locally” is a phrase coined by Patrick Geddes, and has been in use since around 1915. This simple four-word quote seems to have rung through the last century since we still hear it today. Yet we live in the most marketed time in all the world where most popular brands and business are global in some way, it is harder and harder for small shops to stay in business. Consumers clamour for the cheapest price, and the coolest car or gadget regardless of how, where, or who makes it. John Verdant owns and operates a website, www.verdant.net which enables consumers a place to remember how to “think gobally, act locally”. Along with his website, he has also written an article “The Ables vs. The Binges” Which provides an allegory for two different methods of living based on a tale of two families. They are two families who have the same income, “The Ables” are a family that live within their means, shop locally, provide references to neighbors to help them find local jobs, and are simply a modest and frugal family. “The Binges” family are simply glutinous, make more than they spend, consequently piling on debt, have to have the fanciest cars and the best looking clothing, and are simply very materialistic.

As I am getting to an age where I am starting to think about marriage and having a family (I’m 26). I often think about how I want to raise my family. What values do I want to employ, what moral fabric should I instill, and how can I have the happiest life possible. Verdant’s article helped me to think about the questions I have and have painted an accurate description of the some of the pitfalls I have faced in my life growing up, and some of the positives things as well.
Today it is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a consumer-market so manic and hyper-active you feel like you have to move as fast with them, or you are somehow not going to survive. We want everything quick. We want quick food, we want quick shows, quicker commercials. If it doesn’t go in a microwave its too slow. If you’re not at least 5 miles over the speed limit, you’re slow. If a package does not arrive in 3 days, it’s too slow. We have to quickly fly to our destinations. If we don’t fly, we have to ride in the nicest leather seats in a shiny new car. These are all things that we watch and are told we need through the television and more so through the internet.
I myself work in the service industry, and so I see on a daily basis the obvious family households that are living beyond their means. If their was one easy solution that I think would help our economy out more than anything, it would be for families to live within a budget. I know for my family, work was not always steady, especially since my father raised us in the construction industry. The concept of “feast or famine” was ingrained my head, but we always saved for those famine times, and did not feast on the cash that was at hand. We knew that at some point in time, it wouldn’t be there anymore.
One tougher concept that Verdant illustrates, is the positive effect of buying and doing things locally. Many people, myself included, often neglect this simple concept. The internet has given us a huge amount of opportunity to buy things for amazingly cheap, especially when price comparison shopping. When we buy these products they are shipping from everywhere across the globe. We don’t think about the carbon emissions that shipping it costs, the slave labor wages that may be given to those who make our products. We simply enjoy the cheapest price we can find, in the short term perspective. But do we take into account the benefits of buying at a local electronic store? When we shop locally we support our local business (our neighbors) and keep revenue within the city. When we buy produce locally, we have a chance to see the way products have been raised, and we can be more aware of the way the food has been handled, thus avoiding the potential effects of pesticides, herbicides, additives and other destructive compounds that could affect us a decade or so later with cancer or other possibly harmful diseases.
Verdant reminds us too that it is okay to buy things that may be a little bit more expensive if they are meant to lase for a lifetime. Verdant cites craftsman as an example, because if you buy their products and any of it breaks, they will replace it. Although their prices may be higher, the trade off is worth it.
I love this article because it reminds us to be more conscious of our decisions. We need to remember the big picture of things. I want my family to be healthy, so I want to make sure I can buy food and products that are safe for them. I don’t want it to just taste good and be cheap for the next week. I want a food that will sustain us. I want my family to to conscious of other people. I don’t want to support a business that influences poverty in the United States by not having jobs here. Nor do I want to support that same business that give wages to people in other countries that are under the standard of living we expect here in the United States. I want to make conscious decisions about recycling things so that I can get a return on some of my investments, and to be able to give things to others that may make better use of the items that I am not using. I don’t want my family be a slave to the trends that marketers use to entice people in to the vain-images of what happiness and beauty are. I want my family to have enough time to spend with each other and with our friends as well.