|Don’t … unless you really want to …|
There are plenty of good reasons to buy hand-made or bespoke goods. There is the support of individual craftsmanship, high-quality originality, and ensuring that life doesn’t become a mass of hum-drum sameness.
Declaring that “hand-made” is more efficient and better for the environment is not one of them.
Yet this is precisely what the HandMade Project declares: “The accumulating environmental effects of mass production are a major cause of global warming and the poisoning of our air, water and soil.” This being the third-tier of their justification for promoting “handmade” over “factory-made”.
Purely logically, that doesn’t hold. The peak times for electricity consumption happens to be 18h00 to 21h00 … AFTER people come back from work and start preparing dinner, bathing, and watching television. In small family groups.
Given that South African electricity monopoly, Eskom, hasn’t invested in their network for thirty years these effects are important since the grid falls down at peak consumption periods.
Power companies are familiar with the network effects of people finishing viewing their favourite television shows and turning on the kettle for a quick “cuppa”. In the UK, the biggest recorded power surge ever was 2,800 megawatts after England’s 1990 World Cup penalty shoot-out against Germany.
Individual production is hardly efficient. If it were those terrible leaches on society â€“ capitalists â€“ who would sell their own grandmothers, children and wives to make mincemeat to sell to horses to make craft-glue-macramÃ©-sandals if there was a profit in it â€“ would be divvying up their factories into small job-lots.
Mass-production is more efficient. If everyone on earth agreed to wear the same clothes, eat the same food and live in the same place, the world would use a fraction of the things we consume today. It is precisely our individuality that makes us use more things and produce a wider variety of goods.
Our individual requirement to have our own computers is also inefficient. Something the wise boffins at Berkeley realised when they developed SETI@home in 1999. This screen-saver uses the spare capacity on ordinary PCs to sift through radio-telescope data for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. The results are sent back to Berkeley.
More impressively, Stanford University, using a similar system for their Folding@home project â€“ which simulates protein folding (and mis-folding) â€“ has just passed the combined computing capacity of one petaflop (a quadrillion mathematical operations per second).
Clearly mass-production is the way to go if you want to get a vast amount of sameness for the lowest possible cost at the maximum efficiency.
This festive season, buy what you want for the right reasons. Not because some idiot tried to guilt you into buying a good that supposedly is more environmentally or socially “beneficial”, when it clearly isn’t.