Recently I’ve been reading a very interesting book titled ‘No Logo’ by Naomi Klein. The books tells the story of how we shifted from buying ‘products’ to buying ‘brands’ at the end of the 20th century.
No Logo is about the negative side effect of this trend: brands claiming more and more public space.
See also nologo.org (Too bad the site is not very accessible)
No Logo really made me understand my discomfort with multinationals. No Logo strengtens me in my habit of buying daily products at local, small shops.
The nice, small retail shops will disappear, if we continue to strive for cheap when buying our daily products. Bakeries, vegetable shops, shops with regional products, unique cafés, handmade furniture will be replaced by brands. Brands like IKEA, AH, McDonalds, Blokker, Trekpleister, Hema, V&D, H&M, Free Record Shop, etcetera.
Maybe I should say have been replaced. Whether you walk through the city centre of Amsterdam, The Hague or Groningen. You will find the same shops.
Maybe that’s not a bad thing. I, for sure, do not like it.
It is not only that cities have lost some of their diversity, what bothers me. It’s also that cheaper products come at a price:
- The craftsmen and individuals who once were the faces of these shops have been replaced by cheaper personnel. More people are at home, unemployed. We all pay for that.
- The origin of the product became less transparant. We all know the concept of sweat shops. How can you know if the clothes you wear are child-labour free? How do you know if the woman who stitched your t-shirt received a fair salary? Do you even care?
Maybe in the past, we never knew for sure if the tailor got a fair price.
We do know now that our clothes come from far, that the price we pay is lower, that a large part of the price goes to marketing and that the company shareholders demand profit.
How much money is left to pay the people who actually produce?