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The Question of Consumption

J Updated
The question of consumption
There Will Be Games

Bouncing off Iain's initiative to be more aware of sustainability in the board game industry, I began thinking about that and some associated questions.

In our increasingly polluted and overheated world, there's a valid question to be posed about consumer culture. Americans especially are largely possessed of a frame of mind that often means having more stuff is a positive outcome of modern society. No frame of reference is distinct from this mindset, from really wealthy people owning dozens of cars of which they can drive only one at a time to regular people owning collections of kitchen gadgets and power tools that see little use, if any at all. Of course, this same situation exists in the form of media, especially the one that this website is oriented around: board games.

Most of us have long been aware of the segment of the board game world that buys games for the sake of owning them, rather than actually playing them. They're collectors in the same way that many action figure and comic collectors are. They're not interested in playing all of Reiner Knizia's titles. They just want to have a complete collection of them with perhaps one or two plays here or there before moving on to another focus of their collecting efforts. That in itself is a pursuit in the same way that stamp collecting is. There's nothing inherently wrong with it, as it's not harming anyone else directly, and as I've said for most of my life: "Everybody's gotta have a hobby." If it brings someone more joy to have Root and all its expansions sitting on a shelf in pristine condition, rather than actually on a table being used by them and their friends, hey, knock yourself out. You do you. One question does arise when we look at the macro perspective however. As noted, they're not hurting anyone directly, but are we, as a society, hurting everyone obliquely?


On the one hand, certainly, cardboard requires resources. Wooden and plastic figures require resources. Shipping said productions around the world requires resources. All of those resources are, in some small or large way, contributing negatively to the world around us, whether through deforestation (cardboard), petroleum production (plastic and shipping), petroleum use (shipping and production), or any of a few dozen other examples. In that sense, board games are contributing to the overall consumer perspective (More stuff!) that is poisoning/burning our world. On the other hand, this is what keeps the designers and producers of said games, many of them people we directly know and love, doing what they do for a living. As much as I don't want to contribute further to global warming, I also don't want people like Cole Wehrle and Eric Lang to not be able to make a living at what they love to do. I've spent most of my life trying to make a living at something I actually enjoy and I don't want to condemn anyone else to the drudgery of doing something they despise solely in order to pay the bills. But that brings this to a matter of both collective and personal responsibility. Certainly, we must all act together to solve the problems that modern society faces. From a personal perspective, I suspect that's less difficult for me than many others.

I'm not a minimalist, but I've never been very materially inclined. Every car I've ever owned has been used and lasted more than a decade. I wear shoes until they have holes in them. If something is still functional, I'm normally pretty reluctant to upgrade or replace it. I tend to just do with what I have, even if I have the financial room to do better. That doesn't make me better than anyone else. In some cases, it makes me mildly ridiculous (When my partner and I met and she noticed that I'd worn through the soles of my sneakers and was starting on the next layer, she asked: "Isn't it time for some new shoes?") The exceptions to that perspective have always been books, music, and games. I no longer have as significant an environmental concern about the first two, as they can now be produced electronically (which, yes, still has downsides; let's not be pedantic here.) That last category is the stickler but I've adjusted to that by essentially declaring that I'm in "trading only" mode for the past few years. I have a pile of around 130 games on my shelf. I have zero inclination to add to it for anyone but a select few designers whose output I've always appreciated. I'm currently in on two Kickstarter projects from a couple of them and they will likely be the last of my Kickstarter involvement. In the last year or two, every time someone brings up a new game on the TWBG fora, I find myself somewhere between disinterested and actively repelled. I've long since determined that I won't be extracting the amount of "value" that I'm accustomed to from things like cars and shoes from the stack of games dominating a wall of my home. Consequently, I don't really feel like adding to it.


But that question of value is, again, a very personal thing. How many plays is enough to make a game that costs $100 "worth it"? How about a game that costs $30? One play? Five? Ten? Will I be able to play all of my 130 games ten times each? Probably not. Some of them will and have gotten many more than that. But some simply won't. I don't feel compelled to start selling things off simply because I won't use them immediately in some kind of Marie Kondo statement about the lack of joy they bring, because the potential joy is still there. I'm just not interested in adding to the pile in the hopes of generating more joy. I have enough saved up, I think, and I want to get that "value" from what's currently on the shelves, which means that buying new games has pretty much fallen into the same category as most other things in my life: the games I have are still "functional" and so I'll play them until they aren't, which will take a long, long time. Luckily, unlike shoes, when they do become non-functional (i.e. not interesting), I can exercise the option I've been using to remove non-functional games, which is trading. My most recent successful example of that approach was trading a copy of Heroes of Black Reach for Outer Rim, playing Outer Rim once and being completely turned off by it, and quickly trading it for a copy of Ethnos. The only environmental cost incurred in that respect was in shipping the three different games across the country, which is still a cost, but less of one than producing whole new copies.

But speaking of costs, there are more involved than solely energy and materials. I noted above that books and music can now be produced almost solely electronically, negating the need for things like paper, plastic, and aluminum. Although board games can also be "produced" and enjoyed electronically via things like TTS, I'm simply not interested in that medium, as it detracts from what I think is the essential experience of getting together with other people and enjoying the game. I have played and continue to play video games with people in distant locales and I have played games on TTS and enjoyed our time doing so, usually with members of the TWBG community. But board games, to me, are a more social and, thus, shared experience that almost demands that other people be in the same room to fulfill that experience. I want to be able to look up and see the reactions of my opponents when the game turns in a new direction. I want to be able to communicate with them fully- facial expression, tone of voice, body language -when we're tramping across Terrinoth or building a caravan Through the Desert. My enjoyment of the game is often directly linked to the people I'm playing with, in the same way that collectors' enjoyment of possessing said game, regardless of whether they ever remove the shrinkwrap, is an emotional experience for them, as well.


How do we measure the value of our emotional experiences against the potential harm that they can bring? There's a host of philosophical perspectives that identify material objects as something to be avoided or discarded in the hope of reaching a better perspective. From Gnosticism to Dualism to some aspects of Stoicism (of which I'm an adherent) to the dictates of many major religions ("camel through the eye of a needle" and all that), there is often a trend toward rejecting material excess and the accumulation of wealth. There's little doubt that one could look at my wall of board games and think that it's both excessive and an example of useless wealth. However, it's also something I enjoy that, given that they're already produced and sitting on my shelf, aren't hurting anyone directly or obliquely, at this point. It is, to a certain degree, a sign of previous damage that now is simply in stasis; getting no worse and no better and still satisfying my desire to extract enjoyment from it. It becomes a question of fine lines drawn. How much do we hold ourselves responsible for the accumulation of excess? Is my determination to not add to the pile but only to trade away parts of it for new parts sufficient to absolve me of previous sins?

There are a number of voices on TWBG that decry the current excessive state of board game production; suggesting that there's no need for the masses of plastic figures and piles of vividly illustrated cards. From a certain perspective, that's true. There's also no "need" for physical games at all, given the presence of things like TTS. But there's still some value inherent to them for people like me. The fact that Ankh has a literal pile of monstrous figures in it is simply an expression of that kind of game. Designer Eric Lang said that his first approach to all three parts of his mythic trilogy was to make something that looked cool on the table. There's nothing wrong with that, even if some people consider it gauche, because the visuals are part of the play of that kind of game, just like any video game. People have been building and painting Games Workshop's models for almost 40 years now in an effort to have the coolest-looking army on the table while they play GW's games. This is a phenomenon that goes back even further, as fancy-looking chess sets, often tied to a particular IP like Lord of the Rings, have been in existence for even longer. Chess is still an abstract game. You don't need to have those fancy representations of pawns and rooks. But they're part of the experience and suggesting that having so many of them is a problem with that type of game is trying to impose one's own preferences on others.


But that brings us back to that broader perspective. Is it a more beneficial choice for the world-at-large to instead focus on things like RPG's which need only one manual and imagination? Or on abstracts that could be substituted with coins and a grid drawn on a piece of paper? Where is the line between doing the right thing for humanity and our environment and enjoying one's short existence in said environment? If I sold my entire collection today, I'd make a decent amount of money that I could probably do something "better" with than have it sitting on my shelf. Would that make someone else's life better? Maybe. Would it make my life better? Maybe not. Again, apply that to the broader board game world as a whole and it may certainly make the lives of people like Patrick Leder and Scott Almes worse because they'd be out of a job and the joy that their games generate among thousands or millions of people would be lost.

I don't think there are easy or pat answers to any of these questions. I think Iain's initial impulse- to try to reward those companies who are attempting to limit their impact on the environment -is a sound one. Instead of simply rejecting the current state of affairs, he's suggesting that people inform themselves and, in turn, support those producers who are working to still produce their games, however elaborate or fanciful, in a manner that perhaps makes us all a little more comfortable about spending money on our accumulation of excess. It doesn't reject the drive to consume, but perhaps is the first step in shaping it toward something that's more palatable for all of us. Meanwhile, I'm trying to get my 13-year-old copy of Chaos in the Old World on the table again...

There Will Be Games
Marc Reichardt  (He/Him)
Associate Writer

Marc started gaming at the age of 5 by beating everyone at Monopoly, but soon decided that Marxism, science fiction, and wargames were more interesting than money, so he opted for writing (and more games) while building political parties, running a comic studio, and following Liverpool. You can find him on Twitter @Jackwraith and lurking in other corners of the Interwebs.


Articles by Marc

Marc Reichardt
Staff Board Game Reviewer

Articles by Marc

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Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #330480 05 Feb 2022 22:27
So, this is a tough article to write. I don’t now if you (Marc) found it hard to write personally, but I’ve churned a lot of thoughts on the subject and couldn’t come up with an approach. As a journalist professional or otherwise you kind of need to set a stake in the ground regarding your opinion and then defend it in the text that follows whether it’s popular or not. But this is such an amorphous issue that it’s simply hard to come to your own opinion let alone argue it with vigor.

You did a great job of it. There’s a fair amount of ymmv in what you wrote, but in this case I think you need the indemnity. This isn’t a preachable issue.

I’m not in a position to publish here anymore because my ISP more or less blocks the site from all but an iPad going through a vpn, so responses of this size are challenge aplenty just technically, let alone content-wise. Getting an entire article up with editing and images requires a trip to Starbucks, and that’s not on my short list at the moment. And writing on an iPad has about the same charm as dental work for me, truly an outbound tool.

And here’s what I’ve come to personally, a category that I don’t think you covered. I’m kind of in Marie Kondo’s camp — is this bringing me joy? But it’s not about getting rid of the bulk physically. It’s more about unloading the emotional weight of having games unplayed, games I internalize as items on my to-do list. There’s no reason to feel this way, but I do. God help the stamp collector that decides he needs to mail all of them, but collectors don’t think that way. I do. They’re additional obligations when I already have plenty, most of which aren’t negotiable. So the games on the unplayed list linger, perhaps for years, things to keep track of in the back of my mind at all times.

And when games no longer suit me, I need to undertake the work to sell them. Trading is easier and I like you prefer that. But as it stands now my tradable stuff is gone, what remains is buckets of parts and models and bags and bands and boxes and unorganized collectibles that I can’t figure out how to trim up or move on. For sale — Star Wars Destiny, a shitload of arbitrary bits and pieces, $20 obo. The rest of the world sees that and thinks “I already got me one of those.”

So yeah, this doesn’t speak to the consumption aspect from an environmental point of view and I am on board with that. Jaws of the Lion was something like 30 shipping containers across the Pacific. Might be a great game, but in the back of my mind I’m thinking “how the hell am I going to ship the damn thing to its next owner when I’m done with it? And how long is it going to take me to play it enough to strike it off my to-do list?”

Am I the only one feeling this way?
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #330481 05 Feb 2022 23:21
Well, first off: Thanks. This is exactly the kind of response I was hoping for and I'm glad it was worthwhile for you to take the time to read because you're right: There are no easy answers. That's why I left it without a definitive take on the subject: 1. Because I don't have one. 2. Because no one answer will suit everyone. 3. Because even those answers won't necessarily be the "right" ones. But that's OK.

It wasn't difficult for me to write because I spend a lot of time thinking about things like this. When I was younger and much more cocksure of my opinions, I spent a lot of time telling people what was right and wrong about what they consumed and what was "good." But I eventually realized that there's no way to tell people how to have fun. If they're into Camp Grizzly and I'm not, that's just the way it is. Similarly, one can't tell people that they're "wrong" for enjoying big boxes of cardboard and plastic. You can suggest, as Iain helpfully did, that there are ways to try to make those big boxes a bit more acceptable in an environmental sense, but I don't find much use in telling people that their "giant piles of CMON trash are what's killing the hobby" to paraphrase a compatriot of ours. It's not true for a large chunk of said hobby's enthusiasts (witness the $9 million put down on Marvel Zombicide) and it's not really effective in encouraging people to adjust their approach, if you want to do that at all.

I'm right there with you on the pile of stuff that's not really tradeable. I still have a literal pile of both finished and unfinished models from my 40K and Fantasy days that I can't really trade. They'll have to be sold and I probably won't get that much for them. I don't really care about the money. After all, I sold 20,000 comics for a grand total of $800. But I'm just not sure it's worth the effort to try to move them. In the Marie Kondo sense, proper use of my time brings me joy and I'm not sure that that's one of them.

And I totally get the emotional weight of them, too. I have games on my shelf that I haven't gotten around to playing more than once and a few more that I haven't played at all. The last couple years of COVID have been difficult. I know that I'm probably going to end up trading them or otherwise moving them on without ever having tried them. So... did I waste my time by bringing them into the house in the first place? Maybe. Could I have spent that time and attention doing something else? Probably. I can turn my head from where I'm sitting typing this and look wistfully at both shelves full of games that aren't coming off said shelves more than once a week these days. Yeah, the emotional weight is there, especially when I think about how old I am and how many years are left to do those things.

So, I'm right there with you. This is what Thoreau meant when he wrote about simplicity: "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone." I have a hard time doing that but the Stoic in me says that I should try. In some respects, that's what life is about. (I think.)
jason10mm's Avatar
jason10mm replied the topic: #330488 06 Feb 2022 10:28
It is a privilege to live in an era where we can get a new plastic-fantastic crate of gaming goodness every week and still not scratch the surface of all that is available. There is a reason that virtually every game made prior to the 1930's or so could be played with a common deck of cards, a handful of dice, or a few different shapes of stone, wood, or bone. Technological innovation has advanced the quality of components immeasurably and the increase in audience and wealth of said audience has led to an explosion of product.

But a lack of resources breeds ingenuity, limitations foster creativity, and a plethora of options dilutes quality both on the supply and demand sides. The barrier to making a game and getting it out there are lower than ever (no more VHS boxes stuffed with home printed components sold at wargame conventions) and the need to make the most of the games you got is all but gone. Cult of the new means you play a game once, maybe just skim the rules or watch a streamer video, and then move to the next before FOMO gets you.

I don't think boardgaming as a whole has a meaningful negative impact on the planet. In fact, I think the energy consumption/pollution of most board games is purely in the creation portion; playing the games costs no electricity, produces no greenhouse gasses (well, methane production does go up after a few bean burritos), and if it brings humans into actual face to face contact that is a HUGE plus over almost every other form of interaction we get in the Western world these days.

So I'd say that being a board game player, collector, enthusiast, or whatever already gives you a moral credit far above a lot of other hobbies.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #330490 06 Feb 2022 10:56
That's a fair point about the overload of options potentially negatively impacting innovation. But I think it's equally fair to say that the emergence of interesting games really hasn't slowed in the past decade, either. Take The Crew, for example. All it really does is turn the concept of trick-taking on its head but that simple twist is all that was necessary to make a really great game. A game like Ankh, which some would regard as emblematic of the excess of a company like CMON, is an excellent game. Could it be produced with lesser components that wouldn't demand so much in terms of resources? Of course. But, again, part of the experience of playing Ankh is the visual appeal. There is, of course, just as much room to argue that the classic simplicity of things like chess or Hnefatafl or Go have a visual appeal all their own.

You're also right that the act of playing games doesn't impact the environment as a whole and is a social experience that I feel is well above many others of the day and age, which has its own positive contribution to society. I can barely play solo board games because my version of the hobby almost demands other people. But I think the environmental impact of production still has to be taken into account. Is it prominent in the big picture? No. But a lot of little things make up that big picture and that production and distribution is one of them. If we're going to effect meaningful change, we have to start somewhere. If it becomes a trend in board gaming, maybe it becomes a trend elsewhere until those items that have a much larger impact are also produced by companies concerned about sustainability.
thegiantbrain's Avatar
thegiantbrain replied the topic: #330672 11 Feb 2022 05:11
Glad to have been the inspiration for such a thoughtful piece. Lovely work.
Dschanni's Avatar
Dschanni replied the topic: #330673 11 Feb 2022 06:45
Within the pursuit of ideals - buy specific stuff, minimalism, paleo diet, the next how-to-live-right movement – there is the idea to overcome “what is” or to improve things. This puts oneself in conflict, builds images of fear and creates insecurities – “I am like this, but I should be like that.” - One should ask if this is a healthy thing to think and feel.

For example, if you say “I like to be greedy and I like all the consequences of this” that’s all right. Then you are through with it. But if you are greedy and you say “I must not be greedy” you put yourself in conflict and you gradually become unhappy. And if you say “I am greedy” who is the “I” in this moment? Is it not an image, an idea, a certain picture, developed by experiences and stored into memory? And should it be nurtured?

Understanding the significance of our images, the stories we tell ourselves, the various identifications (family, religion, gender, job, nation, hobby and so on) seems to be most significant to me. We think that all of this means safety, but it doesn’t.

In particular, commercialism and consumerism are teaching us that that money and pursuit of pleasure are the greatest things in life. The daily routine of success, power, competition and possession is widely accepted and it makes human beings more and more self-centered and indifferent.

Imagine a worthwhile life, safe, with food and shelter, and with energy and compassion. Instead, the world is about expressing individual desires, about seeking pleasures, and it’s full of competition. Of course, this includes the way board games are often discussed and appreciated. And that’s called “freedom” or “progress”.

Finally, I just want to say thank you. I find all your articles helpful, full of insight and well written. Your series on CitOW stands out. Thank you for this.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #330675 11 Feb 2022 09:01

Dschanni wrote: This puts oneself in conflict, builds images of fear and creates insecurities – “I am like this, but I should be like that.” - One should ask if this is a healthy thing to think and feel.

Absolutely right. I find the idea of shaming people into behavior patterns to often be counterproductive, no matter how tempting it might be. I was hoping that I wasn't too glib ("Knock yourself out.") in suggesting that there's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to either collect games for the sake of collecting or collect fancy, big games (see: Marvel Zombicide) but simply to be conscious of the side effects of what those items are.

Dschanni wrote: In particular, commercialism and consumerism are teaching us that that money and pursuit of pleasure are the greatest things in life. The daily routine of success, power, competition and possession is widely accepted and it makes human beings more and more self-centered and indifferent.

Right. And it's even more problematic in the US, where the Reaganite/Randian philosophy still dominates so much of the cultural outlook and it's often seen as a personal flaw to be concerned about the safety and security of others (mask-wearing during a pandemic, etc.) if it in any way inhibits personal desires or convenience. Again, I don't want to say that games like Ankh are "wrong." I own Ankh. I love Ankh. It's one of my current favorites and I'm glad to pull it out every time my current group meets. But I also want to be conscious of just what those choices mean.

Dschanni wrote: Finally, I just want to say thank you. I find all your articles helpful, full of insight and well written. Your series on CitOW stands out. Thank you for this.

You are very welcome. And thank you. It's the best feedback I can get for someone to state that something I've written made them think or was helpful in some way. Much appreciated.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #330701 11 Feb 2022 15:10
It’s a board game, not a super yacht.

By all means, reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose, but don’t fool yourself into thinking we have any real power.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #330702 11 Feb 2022 15:18

ubarose wrote: By all means, reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose, but don’t fool yourself into thinking we have any real power.

That, too, is part of the problem.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #330703 11 Feb 2022 16:08

ubarose wrote: It’s a board game, not a super yacht.

By all means, reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose, but don’t fool yourself into thinking we have any real power.

Jeeze, then make that a DOUBLE margarita please.
jason10mm's Avatar
jason10mm replied the topic: #330713 12 Feb 2022 09:52

ubarose wrote: It’s a board game, not a super yacht.

By all means, reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose, but don’t fool yourself into thinking we have any real power.

I dunno, I suspect there are some folks here with board game collections so large you would have to disassemble a bridge in order to float them down the river as well :P
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #330716 12 Feb 2022 12:30

jason10mm wrote:

ubarose wrote: It’s a board game, not a super yacht.

By all means, reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose, but don’t fool yourself into thinking we have any real power.

I dunno, I suspect there are some folks here with board game collections so large you would have to disassemble a bridge in order to float them down the river as well :P

I know this a joke, and it is funny. But it also obscures the magnitudes of difference in the power and ability that we have to minimize our impact on the environment vs the ability that those with greater wealth and/or power have.

As Jackwraith wrote, we have a collective responsibility. My original comment was an expression of disgust at the irresponsibility of those who have real power to effect change, and the shifting of blame and guilt to us average people. Like we are angsting over whether or not it’s safe to wash and reuse a ziplock bag that held food, and if it is environmentally irresponsible to purchase new shrink wrapped board game or deck of cards in a clam shell pack, while wearing layers in our homes so we can turn the heat down a couple of degrees, meanwhile others are building super yachts and private jets. All of us here could forgo every small luxury and convenience we have for the rest of our lives and not offset the environmental impact of that one super yacht. And that disgusts me.
n815e's Avatar
n815e replied the topic: #330720 12 Feb 2022 17:07
Even moreso is the idea that responsibility is on us to make these concessions in our lives, because the manufacturers of the products we buy refuse to spend more on creating products that are better for the environment. They have the technology to do it, but won’t. And plastics companies actively promote the idea that it is the consumer’s responsibility to be better, not the corporation’s.
Virabhadra's Avatar
Virabhadra replied the topic: #330750 14 Feb 2022 10:19
Someone should sponsor a contest for repurposing the components of Kickstarter cruft with completely original rulesets.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #330753 14 Feb 2022 11:28
I'm liberal, but some of my friends are farther to the left on the political spectrum. A few years ago, some of them were sharing a meme on Facebook that asserted that normal people have no responsibility for climate change and that most of the harm was done by 100 major corporations. Exactly 100 sounds like a bullshit made-up number, so I applied critical thinking to the meme. I asked my friends if these major corporations had a lot of customers. Silence. I asked if Amazon was one of the 100, given that they spend a lot energy delivering to homes, and a couple of my friends agreed to that. I asked them if any of them had ever purchased anything on Amazon. Silence.

We are all responsible, collectively and individually for climate change. As individuals, we are clearly not doing as much harm as major corporations, but we are customers and therefor responsible for our consumption. Realistically, it will take cooperation from governments and corporations to make meaningful changes, like investing in infrastructure, changing products to green alternatives, and implementing alternative power sources. But consumers can also drive change by controlling and shifting their spending.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #330754 14 Feb 2022 13:04
The problem is that the enduser is powerless. 100 corporations aren’t responsible for it, but they could fix it. All of Amazon’s customers would have to act in unison to do the same. That will never happen, and even if it started to Amazon would actively put changes in place to stop it. They get paid to make sales, not save the planet.

Solar and wind are coming online because they’re a viable alternative, not because people care.
n815e's Avatar
n815e replied the topic: #330755 14 Feb 2022 13:32
When you buy a product, what alternative to shrink wrap exists? Where can I shop for products that use ecologically responsible or biodegradable wrap, or don’t use shrinkwrap at all, when I want to purchase any kind of product?

This is an example, because the question of consumer choice is next to zero in nearly every case. It’s an illusion that’s created to shift the conversation of responsibility to consumers and away from the producers, and we’ve all largely accepted it.

I’m not saying individuals cannot or should not do what they can, but the power of significant and lasting change doesn’t lay with us as individuals. It’s in corporate and government.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #330756 14 Feb 2022 13:37
Corporations generally don't make changes for the sake of doing the right thing. They are highly motivated to seek profits. Without changes in consumer demand, the corporations won't risk profitability to make changes their operations. Governments might be able to do a lot, but not in the U.S., where a highly-polarized political environment has made everything political and therefore objectionable to half the voters.
n815e's Avatar
n815e replied the topic: #330757 14 Feb 2022 13:39
Here’s another example. After the BP spill in the gulf I decided I wanted to buy gasoline from companies that had the best environmental record, so I researched all the brands of the local gas stations and chose those with the lowest impact.

Joke is on me, though, since every brand uses the same supply.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #330758 14 Feb 2022 14:29
Don’t buy gasoline.

Change happens when you think at a grander scale.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #330762 14 Feb 2022 16:18
Or at least don't get a big ass truck unless you need it for work. As of 2021, the Ford Motor Company only makes one sedan: the Ford Mustang. I don't know what their profit margin is on the Mustang. But when they first discussed this strategy with stockholders a few years ago, Ford was making an average profit of $10,000 on pickup trucks and SUVs, but only $1,500 on sedans. To me, that suggests that a Ford sedan was a better value than a Ford truck. But too many American drivers value expressing their masculinity or protecting their families or both by driving a big vehicle, and the result is worse for the environment than when most people drove sedans.
Msample's Avatar
Msample replied the topic: #330763 14 Feb 2022 17:28
Until gas costs as much here as it does in Europe, Americans will continue to buy Canyoneero type cars.

When I’ve visited Europe its striking how much smaller cars are over there. They have very few SUVs but loads of station wagons, which I am envious of since they have all but disappeared in the US.
n815e's Avatar
n815e replied the topic: #330764 14 Feb 2022 17:31
Not everyone has access to public transportation. We don’t all live in cities.
Nor do we all drive trucks.
Nor is everyone capable of getting an electric vehicle that still uses oil products, including plastic, with proprietary parts that the manufacturer prevents from being reused or recycled to ensure a constant revenue stream.

It’s a strange set of assumptions to make to dismiss the wider point that consumer choice is largely an illusion when it comes to environmental issues.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #330767 14 Feb 2022 19:17
If I recall the original article correctly, the problem he focused on was the “more more more” nature of our culture. All of this applies directly to the points I was making. Granted, your neighbors will continue polluting. But maybe buying more isn’t making you happy.

You can always find an excuse to not change. Being helpless is easy. But change is generally in your favor.
Legomancer's Avatar
Legomancer replied the topic: #330777 15 Feb 2022 07:54
American culture has also modified the meaning of "value" as in "more for your money". It should mean that if I have $10, and one candy bar is $2 and another is $1 and they're otherwise the same, I should get the $1 one. But we've redefined it to mean, when you're buying candy, *GET THE MOST POSSIBLE*, ie, buy TEN of the $1 bars.

Ok, it's a bad analogy. But what I mean is, when Americans buy a house, they want the biggest house possible. When buying a car, the biggest possible. Not what best suits their needs, just what's the most they can get. So you see a single person driving a Dodge Behemoth to the grocery store.