Bare with me. Mr Petit Paradis is ticked off and I'm not happy.
WARNING! This post is littered with links so that you can fill out the big picture in your own time and get a sense of where I'm coming from.
I had a pretty good childhood. I was fortunate to have lived in a wealthy country (Australia), in a great part of the world (Perth, Western Australia). I enjoyed a wide-ranging plethora of activities. Particularly outdoor activities, though I wasn't your average aussie minor, I also enjoyed regular bushwalking and birdwatching. In my teens I lived on my mountain bike and my mate and I would traverse rather lengthy distances along the coast. Much of this area was sand dunes and scrubland heath. Today, from the view on Google Maps it is roof tops and bitumen. Such is change.
So much has changed in the world since I grew up too.
Home computers were just coming out. Commodore 64
There were 'mobile' phones the size of a house brick but this was fine when you look back at the size of the television sets in comparison to today.
My point, though probably poorly made, is that change has been rampant. So I look at some of the stuff my own children have and I'm partly filled with awe (there are some fantastic wooden toys on the market and the new Lego stuff is both amazing and unsettling to me). But I'm also saddened.
Some of the stuff is so cheap and nasty and so seemingly futile that it fries my mind to think of how much energy has gone into something made in China - and what it's going to be doing in landfill after the week it has been used and destroyed. This is a generous time frame by the way, some toys last only a day as I'm sure other parents can testify to.
It’s probably just me. Alone here with my thoughts on the subject. But, the recent offering of superheroes tokens for kids from Woolworths supermarket disturbs me. Immensely.
I was really taken by the offer of free fruit for the kids. Nice work Mr Woolworths and Jamie Oliver. There was something tangible and real, and kind of half nourishing about the thing.
But this tokens thing irks me. What is the message? “Here sweet child, take these tokens as a reward of your parents consumption levels.”
I look at a lot of stuff these days and think, “If they dug this up in some post-landfill era in the distant future (which, lets face it –they might, after-all it’s made of plastic), would they really care?”
I may remain a little bit isolated by my opinion on this subject and I’m not even offering up any solutions or alternatives in a nice, friendly pro-active way. Which leads me to speculate on what might happen if Woolworths didn’t even offer the nicely packaged tokens in the first place. The silence may continue forever, would anyone really care aside from Woolies executives?
For me it makes the lyrics from Peter Garrett's song It Still Matters To Me, rather more poignant.
We all take an escalator to that Woolies in the sky
To reprise Dante’s inferno no longer in disguise
Haunting. Sometimes it is as though we are already in a living hell. But that's getting a bit deep.
Here is what we don't see in our consumer society - and I suspect we don't think about it either.
- The pollution created to manufacture and distribute these plastic tokens.
- And what of the manufacturing of the individual packaging? How much more environmentally un-friendly do they want to be?
- What is the intrinsic, real worth of such tokens? I'm sure there are other more worthwhile things that parents and grandparents can give their adoring young-folk.
- Is it not encouraging a collecting and consuming culture in our kids? Like they need it!
For me the kick in the teeth is the utterly and completely pretentious 'worth' placed on each token. Woolworths gives out ONE token for every $20 spent in the store. You can look at this in two ways. Twenty bucks for a token might seem rather expensive when you come to think of it.
I don't know about you, but to me, one of those tokens should cost way more than $20 when you stop to take into account the real cost of bringing it to your local store and the cost to the environment, both now and into the future.
* 17th May 2017 - Even plastic in the shape of farm animals would be better than a token, surely?