Every year during mid-September the recycle week puts forward the importance of how consumers can reuse things and reduce waste. But pursuing a sustainable lifestyle is an everyday challenge.
Alternative ways of consumption, such as the #Fourfitchallenge initiated by the waste company “Sysav” and the Salvation Army’s second hand retail chain “Myrorna” can help us to raise awareness for the problem of overconsumption and disusage in our society.
Consuming things gives us pleasure
In Sweden, each person throws away eight kilos of textiles and 28 kilos of perfectly edible food every year. Precious resources are wasted, as we, the consumers, want to fit in a society, where excessive consumption has become the norm. Consuming things gives us stability, pleasure and distracts us from our daily routine. In other words: A world without buying new stuff on a regular basis is not imaginable for most of us.
Against this background, the Swedish companies “Sysav” and “Myrorna” initiated a campaign by inviting the Swedish population to use only four items of clothing during one week. The campaign went viral and was soon spread over the whole Internet. The topic resounded throughout different social classes and brought people to overthink their own consumption habits. But how can each of us implement more sustainable consumption patterns in our daily lives on a long-term basis?
A new way of thinking
Talking to Cecilia Fredriksson, professor of ethnology at the department of service management and service science, there has been a clear shift in thinking of alternative ways of consumption.
“Already as a young student 30 years ago I was very interested in flea marketing as a phenomenon. However, back in the 1980’s it was extremely odd to visit a flea market and to buy second hand clothes. It was more a thing that the poorer people were doing, so you really had to look hard for those shops even in a city like Lund.”
She adds that she has always been fascinated by that kind of consumption so that her first publication indeed centered the idea of flea marketing. Although, at that time nobody spoke of second hand shopping as an alternative way of consumption it marked the beginning of an important form of consumption for our society today.
A trend to possess less
Cecilia also mentions a new trend that is happening right now in terms of peoples’ wishes to possess less.
“We can see a new trend coming regarding “stop-shop-acts”. Hereby especially women clean their wardrobes and homes and can hence also unclutter their lives in some way. This stop-buying behavior is a good practice and it is teaching us how to consume less.”
“In addition, people are becoming more interested in the authenticity of second hand clothes”, as Cecilia puts it. “Knowing that the clothing item has a history gives people the feeling that they are connected to the item.”
Sustainability in Lund
Having all this information in the back of our minds it emerges the question what a student city like Lund has to offer with regards to possibilities to integrate more sustainable consumption patterns in our lives. For Cecilia, Lund represents an exceptional good example for the readiness of people to change something in terms of sustainability.
”In Lund, people are very aware of this topic. There are lots of second hand shops and there is this willingness, especially of the young people, to take part in the circular economy movement.”
It is all very well to have people that are willing to change something. However, this readiness also has to be translated into practice. For this purpose Lundagard is launching a series of articles called “Eco – Why not?”. This new rubric aims at showing students how to consume and live more sustainably in Lund on the basis of articles and video clips. So let’s step out of our comfort zones and change something, or as Cecilia formulates it:
“We should always reflect upon ourselves as consumers because it is morality that is involved when it comes to consumption.”