Vote!

There’s a big face, smirking awkwardly but trying to look trustworthy. However nobody knows if a horror clown will pop out from behind it. And there’s already the next face!

No, I am not in a haunted house but on a street in Austria. It’s full of election posters because of today’s National Councils elections. Vote at the elections (even if you some paper for it which is not Zero Waste ;))! And read this article first!

This autumn it’s time for elections in different countries: In Germany people elected Federal Parliament a few weeks ago. Now they have four years break until the next vote. Four years? Not really. In fact no single day will go by without a vote from you.

How is that possible? In this article I will write about my definition of “Vote” and how voting in your daily life looks like.

1.What can “vote” mean?

To vote means to decide yourself for/against something. Even if you never go to political elcections, you take your choice every day. Between going to work or going to shool, deep house or techno, discounter or farmers market.

Here I try to categorise the votes/choices elections which you take in your everyday life. [1]

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When you go to political elections you vote for parties or personalities who should realise a planned political programme. However the programme is very often not the one which you would like to realise if you were a politician. And you may agree with one party in this, with the other party in that point of view but it’s difficult for you to find the one which best fits you. Political elections take place in regular intervals if you life in a democracy. I see them as very important for the public, but I prefer a democracy where the public can’t only vote but has many possibilities to co-decide (referendums, initiatives, etc.).

Through personal decisions you decide what you want to do with your life, e.g. work or go to university. These questions lead through the way of your life.

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Money makes the world go round. But it is our money and our world. We can choose how we want our world to be.

With consumptions choices you decide what you do with your money. Most of the people in the Western world use money every day and the money they spend during their lifetime is a huge sum. So it’s a very important method to choose in your everyday life. Why? Ideally you choose the products and services you use consciously with regard to their environmental impact – that’s the concept of sustainable consumption choices.

2.What’s the concept of sustainable consumption choices all about?

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above: Your choice – tap water or water from plastic bottles. Everydays life provides unlimited chices. It’s our duty to use them responsibly.

When you spend your money you usually give it to somebody and you support the products (s)he produces or the services (s)he offers. With the product or service you get a benefit. When you consider (as usual in economics) a “homo oeconomicus” who chooses always rationally the good with the greatest utility for himself/herself you will see mathematically calculable consumption decisions[2].

In my vision of sustainable consumption choices I consider different assumptions. This concept works when you act like a human being who has ethical principles in his life and is ready to think about advantages and disadvantages of different options without only considering his/her own benefits. This human being doesn’t only consider the prize but prioritizes sustainable products (thinking of social and ecological aspects).

With sustainable consumption choice consumers have an enormous power: If everyone only buys the cheapest products, the market adjusts to these needs. But if no one buys “waxed lemons with imazalil and thiabendzol” even if they are the cheapest ones, this product will disappear from the market. And the more consumers act this way, the more potential they have to change supply together!

With your sustainable consumption choice you can choose more directly to give your money only to companys/personal undertakings which you want to support!

Develop consciousness for your possibilities to choose the supply and to change it. If you don’t consider certain products/services as meaningful for you and your environment you don’t have to buy them. There are enough alternatives on the free market. When buying these you show the producers that you support their activities and that they should continue producing this product /offering this service.

3.Can I really make a difference with my vote?

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Quite a lot of people may argue now that you can’t change anything with your own consumption. There are way too many people which only buy the cheapest products and the influence of a person is too small… If everybody thinks like that, we don’t have a possibility to change something!

In the past I also thought like that. My mind has changed because I think political progress and laws are due to their complex processes too slow to tackle our environmental problems fast enough. But we all can start today with changing the supply in a meaningful way.

Most of the people see political elections as really important. Not all the people in a country go to vote. But a share of people believes that political elections can help us towards a better and more democratic world. If we don’t use this possibility to express our opinion we will lose it. It’s the same with sustainable consumption choices. And if everybody believes that he can make a difference, we will do this together!

Nobody can abstain from consumption choices even when he lives autarkic. However it’s possible in democracies like in Austria to abstain from political elections.

If you tick randomly a party on the ballot paper it’s the same as to buy something randomly. Choosing a product only because you or your ancestors always did it? It’s the same if you vote for a party only because your great-grandfather alwas did it.

I won’t presume that you vote like this (political). These examples should only show how people like you and I sometimes waste our possibilities of consumption choices and how we see them as less important as political elections.

But with your political elections, we choose our politics.

With consumption choices, we choose our economy!

How do you inform yourself before political elections? You will read manifestos, the wepages of party as well as read newspaper articles from many different types of media.

That’s also an ideal way for taking a sustianbale consumption choice: Inform yourself extensive and vote then!

Because: “Every receipt is paper. Every damn time. Love, Capitalism.”[3]

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No matter how you and I will vote on Sunday: Let’s do it on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well!

More information about an easier application of sustainable consumption choices + the article bananas part II follow!

How do you think about sustainable consumption choices? Write a comment!

[1] At first I wrote this article in German and then translated it. In German there people can use one verb for political elections, personal choices and consumption choices (“wählen”). In English there are far more verbs used.

[2] http://wirtschaftslexikon.gabler.de/Definition/homo-oeconomicus.html

[3] This quote is common in german. Originally:Jeder Kassabon ist ein Stimmzettel. Jedes verdammte Mal. Alles Liebe, dein Kapitalismus.“

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