Rethinking Our Consumer Culture

We often complain about big corporations creating large amounts of unchecked waste. Who wouldn’t after seeing images of foaming lakes or opening an online order to find one lipstick wrapped in six feet of bubble wrap?

When I started Grinding Stone, I unexpectedly came across a different perspective. As a business owner, I started learning about the mentalities that push businesses over the eco-friendly edge. 

We have created a consumer culture in which customer satisfaction and profit trump values. The exchange of money for goods has become so transactional that we have lost any awareness of the humans behind this exchange.

For customers, everything must be perfect. A customer is bestowing his/her hard earned money to this faceless business and the business better provide 110% on the promised service. God forbid, the faceless business makes a mistake. Then prepare for the abusive phone calls to customer service and bad reviews on any platform imaginable.

For businesses, anything to ensure profits. If the customer wants perfection, then hang any morals or ethics. Give the customers exactly what they want, not because of any real affection for the customer, but a desperate need to collect every rupee available in that market.

So when a shopkeeper is questioned about carrying plastic bags in a city where plastic bags are banned and they blame the customer who doesn’t carry his/her own bag and therefore won’t make a purchase, it makes me wonder. And when I see an online order wrapped in excessive bubble wrap to prevent breakage and the consequent customer complaints, it makes me wonder.

Maybe if we let businesses make mistakes sometimes and accept the humans behind the efforts who are just trying to share their products with us, they will feel less pressure. And maybe if we treat our customers with respect and not see them as a walking wallet, we can share our values, not just our products.

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