Most of us are both. In some areas, we use and utilise, often even in the process of our own production. In other areas, we are the creators. We design, build, offer and serve.

These two functions are mutually dependent on a macro scale and form the root of our economic system. Within this system, we find two very distinct impressions of each of these functions.

The Abusive System. Here the consumer demands the ability to be passive. We want to purchase without considering impact or implications. We do not care about sustainability or viability. Our only concern in the fulfilment of a felt need. I demand resolution of this need at any cost. (Not to be confused with ‘any price’.)

The producer seeks to profit from this demand. The key driver is profit. Therefore, we produce what consumers what, not what they need. We also do not care about the consequences or implications. We aim to meet minimum criteria and view legislation as barriers and tick boxes to be satisfied if necessary and circumvented in possible.

The Supportive System. Here consumers buy responsibly. They investigate and scrutinise practices. They realise that their purchasing power drives production and validates practices. They demand responsibly. Convenience is subservient to sustainability. We do not buy because we can, but because we should.

The producers acknowledge its stakeholders as central, each appropriately weighted, not based on financial risk, but on holistic welfare. They take sustainability and impact seriously. They consider the long term impact of innovations instead of immediate need fulfilment.

Both these systems are alive and well, functioning side by side. The tension is mounting.

As consumers, we prefer the passivity of the abusive system. We do not want the responsibility of our purchasing decisions. Mindless swiping is much more convenient. At the same time, we expect our producers to conduct themselves like those of the supportive system. Giving them all the responsibility, yet not being willing to pay for all the extra effort they put in.

Our money flows to cheaper solutions, driving the economy back to an abusive system.

This is the reality of cheap imports.

This is the hypocrisy of voting with our money while protesting with our words.

Aris Sfakianakis

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