By Fernando Lovato and Javi Vázquez (Sosterra)
Perhaps what now defines the moment in which we live is the fact of consumption. We can´t live without consuming, it’s at the center of our existence. Consumption is completely simple. You can consume when you’re one year old or 99 years old; you can consume through any medium because there is an infinity of channels that reach you with the sole objective of selling you something, and you´re life sometimes is simpler and happier if you´re able to consume… Consumption is a way of life- is it something that we’ve chosen? Can we live in a different way? What impact does the very fact of life, that’s to say, consumption, have for other people? Farther than your own belly button, what happens when you buy a certain product in a certain place? Do you know what happens? Do you know what’s behind it all? Do you know who produced it? Do you know what the channels are? Do you know who has worked so that you can take advantage of a sale? Behind all of this, independent from the service or the product that you buy, if you dedicate a little time to a creating a reflective space and if on top of that you do it with other people and you share it, well, perhaps you´re able to change the way you consume to something a little simpler that you could do alone at home….
Critical consumption reminds us that “consumption” is also a right that has been taken away from us….
Yes, that’s what critical consumption is about. When we talk about what rights and obligations have been taken away from us or which rights we have to demand back or reformulate, we’re talking about how, in terms of consumption, every person is a consumer and, therefore, we all have rights relating to consumption and we have the right to decide what we consume. We have the right to decide if we plant one crop or the other in our communities, even if we don’t consume it, and decide if what livestock we want to raise. These rights have been taken away from us, those decision are made in other spheres that are not our own and it affects us directly. We have the right to decide whether if on our lands there will be fracking or whatever. These rights aren’t there anymore, they’ve been taken away from us and we’ve taken them for lost. Of course every right comes with responsibility. Therefore, the commitments that we’re willing to make in order to demand these rights and responsibilities are very important. And that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about critical consumption, that’s to say, we all consume and know that consumption is capitalism’s tool to dominate us, and we should take it back. Consumption is ours, we decide among ourselves what to consume and in turn what commitments we take on.