Tag Archives: consumerism

From Beginnings and Endings to Boundaries and Edges

by Josh Lepawsky and Charles Mather

The authors: Josh Lepawsky is  Associate Professor and Charles Mather is Head of Department both at the Department of Geography, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.

Lepawsky J and Mather C 2011 From beginnings and endings to boundaries and edges: rethinking circulation and exchange through electronic waste Area 43 242–249

[N.B.: This is the first open access paper published in the journal Area, which means anyone can read it for free rather than having to pay a subscription to access it]

Fieldwork as Learning and Bonding in the Great Outdoors: a lesson to be taken to Everest

by Fiona Ferbrache

“Fieldwork is an integral component of the geography degree” (Fuller, 2011:1).

The above quotation comes from an early view Area paper analysing the role of residential and non-residential fieldwork in geographical education.  The paper argues that the outdoors has much to offer in the process of learning and enhancing geographical knowledge.  It also touches on what many of us have experienced: the beneficial integration between students that working together in real world settings can evoke.  While discussing the advantages of “taking students outdoors to learn in high places”, Fuller advises: “care is required to maximise its potential” (p.1).

Fuller’s reference to “high places” (defined in terms of altitude and geographical value), links to a recent project undertaken at Mount Everest’s Base Camp.  Sociologists, Tumbat and Belk (Science Daily, 2010), undertook an ethnographic study of commercialised climbing expeditions and interviewed clients paying for the experience of climbing Mount Everest.  Their findings indicate that Base Camp can be characterised by extreme selfishness, competitiveness and power-seeking behaviour, which the researchers link to consumer behaviour and the marketplace.  This contrasts with many outdoor activities that report communitarian spirit and camaraderie among those taking part.  This perhaps supports Fuller’s argument that care is required to maximise the potential of extraordinary experiences for, as he notes, learning and experiencing together outdoors can provide “the glue which bonds together a student cohort” (Fuller, 2011:2).

Fuller, I.C. (2011) Taking students outdoors to learn in high places. Area (forthcoming)

Science Daily (2010) Climbing Mount Everest: Noble Adventure or Selfish Pursuit? 22 December, 2010 [online]

Green Consumerism

By Caitlin Douglas

Be sustainable. The answer is pretty simple right – consume less. But is it that simple ……..

In a recent article in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Gibson et al. (2011) discuss the interface between climate change, household consumption and sustainability.  The authors asked interesting questions such as whether the impacts of transporting items sold on EBay outweigh their re-use value, and whether eating local food actually reduces greenhouse gas emissions.  They also described the conundrum when choosing between two different ‘sustainable’ options, such as whether to re-use plastic supermarket bags for bin liners, or whether to shop using reusable bags and then buy bin liners.

Such debates can be tiring and confusing. What can one do? Well Naresh Ramchandani and Andy Hobsbawm may have the answer for you in the form of Green Thing:

‘Green Thing is for those of us – and there’s a lot of us – who don’t get turned on by the tree-hugging thing, the guilt thing, the scientific thing or the world-is-at-an-end thing. Green Thing is a simple thing, a fun thing, a creative thing and a community thing. It’s for anyone who wants to lead a greener life but hasn’t found a way.’ (Green Thing Website 2010)

So I encourage you to give the Green Thing a chance, its innovative approach to sustainability may be just what you are looking for.

Gibson et al. 2011.Climate change and household dynamics: beyond consumption, unbounding sustainability. Trans Inst Br Geogr 36:3-8

Green Thing Website