When we began working on Skwoodle last year our bias advisor said something really important that hasn’t left us. We are not post-colonialism. Colonization has not ended. Whilst this is obvious in settler-colonist countries like America, Canada and Australia, what is less obvious is how the hundreds of years created an endless spiral for countries to get caught in, and how the structures that have been set up so greatly benefit our countries and whilst our actions continue to create conditions which burden the world’s poorest. Whilst we may no longer be directly enslaving people by the millions, we now enslave people through our consumption and desire for more. We trap entire lands into working for our lifestyles and goods. We economically paralyze countries to where they can do no more.
Take our usage of plastic. When China stopped the onslaught, we now coerce labor in South East Asian countries to work for us, whilst damaging their environment and then demanding they use less plastic (that we brought in and buy the most of). Before Vietnam’s ban on imports, 900 households recycled plastic scraps, processing 650T of plastics per day. Of this, 25-30% was discarded and 7 million litres of wastewater was discharged each day without proper treatment (source: The Conversation). They then had to run 24 hours a day with the influx of our waste.
Look at our desire to eat fish so much. The fishing industry is one of the most exploitive of people in the world.
Look at our fast, junk and processed foods. Whilst the worlds poorest rarely, if ever, eat these, we exploit the resources of their country to do so.
See our clothing – we are not willing to pay more for it (even when we say we are) and we largely ignore the people in poverty whom make it whilst consistently making the vast majority of it from synthetic materials clogging river ways, releasing harmful chemicals and creating relentless jobs.
Our products are made from mines that exploit adults, that children work in and that ruin ecosystems.
We aren’t pretending to have an answer to all this – it is complex and unjust. But consciously consuming can have a major flow on effect if we all did so. Also, empathy.