Friday, June 27, 2008

Consumerism with a face

Consumerism is almost unavoidable, unless you have a self sufficient farm/house and depend only upon yourself. Being able to buy things doesn't necessarily mean being irresponsible individual who only cares about his/her needs. Rather than"I spend there for I am" I'd like to live upon "I act the way I think" principle.

I decided to become more responsible type of a consumer, being careful about who I give my money to. Now I might not be rich enough to be able to afford fair trade products only but I did make few decisions on what to change when I buy things (or as we Slovenians say: "Start by tidying your own doorstep." ).

So what is really that I can do about it? Well, for start I decide to:
  1. Ban buying things made in countries that use "cheap" labor force. Sure it costs lest, but I will not give my money to people who support exploitation. I'm willing to pay fair price for fair amount of work. It doesn't mean I will spend more money for shopping, it means I will think whether I really need new pair of sneakers only because existing ones are out of fashion.

  2. Buy my fruits/vegetables on organic market. I prefer to give my money directly to farmers than to supermarket, who usually sells frozen stuff of low quality, rich with pesticides. Buying cheaper fruits doesn't mean saving money - it means eating crap quality food for low costs, resulting in crap quality "vitamins" that don't make you feel any better.

  3. Pay more attention to the content than design: I prefer to buy a big bottle of yogurt rather than taking lots of small cute cups. For the things I use more often I prefer to "produce" as little garbage as possible. Remember, design doesn't reflect quality - usually it's the other way around: attractive design covers for poor content (especially evident in cosmetic industry).

  4. Make my own gifts. I've tried to do it as often as possible - not only they are unique but they also show your care for person. Since I don't always have enough time to make my own gift, I'd sometimes buy a nice book instead. It is the though that counts.

  5. Favor natural medicine before official one. I don't need to take a pill for every little inch I feel in my body. In fact, I'd like to give AS LITTLE MONEY AS POSSIBLE to the pharmaceutic industry. They don't want me to get well, they want me to stay ill and spebd more money. Let's be honest, healthy people don't spend money as easily as sick people do. So I'll put special effort to stay as healthy as I can (and quit my bad smoking habit asap).

  6. Stop buying things "just in case". I have my closet full of "just in case" clothes I wore maybe one time but it most cases not even that. Not to mention some of "just in case" food, I never used. "Just in case" stuff usually ends either forgotten somewhere or as a gift to your friend.

  7. Say no to plastic bags. They are everywhere and it's hard to escape massive collection of them as you get them for free even without asking. The truth is plastic bags are usually blown away from garbage disposals and end up on trees, in the sea or in some animals' mouth/throat. What's the alternative? Cotton/paper bags you can reuse for a longer period of time.

  8. Reuse and rearrange old furniture. Luckily I have that creative inch to play around with old stuff and make something attractive out of it. I have to admit I love Ikea, but I will not go there for shopping anymore. Not only because they use cheap labor force to make their stuff, but also because it is low quality. Let's be honest, nothing is cheap when you have to buy it twice.

  9. Save some money for cultural events. I think cultural activity is perhaps one of the most important things for one nations' identity and I'll be glad to put my money where my mouth is. Few Euro's is small price to say: I love and support your work.

  10. Support the Polluter pays principle. We should get more aware of our responsibility towards environment. Until educational system manages to spread knowledge about it let the cash speak. Sometimes it's the only way to understand.
All of this might not change the world in a day but it's a start. Thinking global and acting local is far more successful than you can imagine. So what is your own personal consumer manifesto?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Planing a website

Being so involved in my work as I am lately, I can' help myself writing about it. Planing a website is very quite similar to rearranging you closet. You start with the desire to have your closet neat and organized but not lose much time keeping it that way. We all know how it works: when you're in a hurry and need your lucky shirt, you will find it, even if it means turning the closet inside out. And it usually does.

So you start with bunch of clothes and your habits of using them. Clothes you wear more often, the ones you never wear, clothes for sport, fancy clothes and stuff you want to keep but will probably never have a chance to wear anyway. And you don't want stuff you don't need to get in the way of your search for stuff you do need.

You also know the amount of time you don't have in the morning to dress up and what it is you're usually looking for. Old habits die hard so unless you'd like to spend a lot of time adjusting to a new lifestyle, you can at least make a good use of them. You can sort your clothes by color, size, type of fabric, season, type of occasions, stuff given to you by your parents or any other criteria you can think of. The important thing to keep in mind is the disorder should be adjusted to you and not the other way around, so you will know exactly in which pile to look for that t-shirt.

Websites are guided by the same "don't make me think" principle. Only you have content instead of clothes, users instead of you and well, loads of research instead of few hours of your time.

Painful as it might sound I have to assure you it's a lot of fun. And just as I don't want to spend my time looking for my dress, users don't want to waste time looking for information. Good planing will keep your closet/website in a low maintenance condition until you decide it's either too small or too ugly and buy a new one ;).

Monday, June 9, 2008

Yes, it's fucking political!

Often I meet people who say they are "not interested in politics." I must admit I find this statement quite bold, considering the fact we are all making politics on daily basis whether being aware of it or not. So not being interested in politics means you're actually not interested in:
  • Who makes decision regarding your life,
  • What kind of future will you have,
  • Who are you supporting by spending your money,
  • Knowing which stuff you drink/eat might seriously damage your health,
  • Knowing whether you financially support employers who exploit their employees,
  • What are the consequences of your daily actions,
  • How many children made that fancy T- shirt with their delicate little hands for about a buck per day.
Of course it's individuals' right not to be interested and not to know any of those things, even though not knowing it doesn't mean you shake off the responsibility part.

The only catch is not being interested in politics means you don't get to complain about it either. Yes, it's the old "Do something about it or shut up" principle. So are you sure you're still not interested?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Working from home rules!

After my first month of freelancing I have to say I absolutely love it! Of course it demands an amount of self - discipline, self - organization and good time management but once you get a hang of it everything you do becomes pure pleasure.

Here's why:
  • You can wear your pajamas to work,
  • You can take showers, brush teeth or make a face mask during work,
  • You can have breaks whenever you want,
  • You can eat proper meals when you're hungry,
  • You have time to cook, go to store and even do some housework in between,
  • You have more time to read,
  • You can afford a slow getting up, without any hurry,
  • You can go to concerts/events during the week without being worried when to get up the next day,
  • You can stay in during the rainy days,
  • You have more time for yourself and take a day off when all the work is done,
  • You can have excellent coffee/tea breaks exactly the way you want it.
I just love my work! Now excuse me, while I'm off for my coffee break... and listening to that Johnny Cash album for the x time :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Hip hop threesome

My last week was dedicated to hip hop music whichI like a lot but rarely get a chance to listen to some good one. There are not so many hip hop artists that have something interesting to say beyond having sex, geting wasted and hanging out with their "homies". All of these I can get out of reading blogs, but when it comes to music, I need more.

I must say I prefer Balkan hip hop not only because of the juicy language but also because there is a great amount of political in their content and as Bosnian artist Edo Maajka says: Balkan language was just made for rap :) So last week I saw three great concerts with some really cool bits.

Elemental, Croatian hip hop group that exists for ten year already has released four albums so far. The concert was a total knockout and they really put a lot of energy in their performance, not to mention the communication with the audience. Loved them! Will definitely go to see them again live.

The Beat Fleet is another great Croatian hip hop group that flirts with rock, reggae and ska music, unfortunately I was too tired to fully enjoy their concert. They exist for 18 years and have released three albums so far. Guys surely know their beats and were a pleasure to listen to.

The last, but not least was the excellent Bosnian artis Edo Maajka, one of my absolute favorites when it comes to overall impression. He released four studio albums so far and one Soundtrack. Not only is he extremely lovable and positive, he knows how to bring out the best in the audience. We were screaming, whistling, dancing and singing, even the major of Ljubljana went to see his concert. Unfortunately the videos I made have bad audio quality because I was standing too close to the stage. Can you blame me ;)?

In comparison to the previous two concerts this one was not in the sauna held outside which probably brough some points to the great atmosphere. It was definitely one of the best concerts I've been to lately. He's the kind of artist you can't help adoring.

Videos coming up soon.