I recently visited one of my favourite countries. A full-colour, glossy pull-out in the local paper had attracted my attention. The advert proclaimed an ‘ecoworld’ in which the housing development is designed to tantalisingly encourage a ‘more wholesome way of life’ with ‘easy sophistication and a synthesis of form, functionality, environmentalism and luxury’.
No doubt it does, but hold the front page just there. Irony of ironies, the same paper reported on the fact that, just down the road, whole mountains are literally being taken down in order to mine the marble and limestone, and vast tracts of lush green hillside are being laid bare to be taken over by plastic greenhouses while the local people ask what has happened to their natural water sources.
Still more, a huge number of hectares of forest and plantations are being stripped out to build houses and yet more shops in areas where one wonders just where the people to live and shop in them will come from. Ironically, a little further along, many such shops and housing developments stand uninhabited, and have done for years. I have seen such scenes myself, all, probably, in the legitimate name of ‘economic development’.
This country is not alone in its irony. I recently weighed my week’s mail and newspapers. What with brochures and leaflets for this and that, packaging you could send to the moon without fear of damage, and vast amounts of direct marketing literature, it all came to a grand total of 6 kg, or 312 kg per year: a third of a ton. And that’s mail and newspapers alone! Multiply that by the population and it stands to reason that our recycling plants just cannot deal with the volumes of waste paper produced.
In a time when sustainability and environmentalism are on the world agenda (see Module 3 of the Marketing course), one wonders if, as consumers (not all may I add), as long as the terms ‘sustainable’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘ethically produced’ and ‘environmentalism’ are bandied about, we feel content in our own wonder-worlds, while around us it may be an entirely different story.