New metaphors for sustainability: the shopping divider at the check-out

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

Monik Gupta, environmental blogger and researcher has guest blogged for Ashdenizen. Here he suggests a metaphor in our series New metaphors for sustainability: the shopping divider at the check-out.

For me, thinking about sustainability, the object in the picture comes to mind. We come across it so regularly, however there is no word readily available to us to describe it (google suggests it to be termed ‘cashier divider’ by retail experts). Evidently, just like with ‘sustainability’, it is something very well known but much less engaged with.

What’s more important, both the shopping divider and sustainability mark the necessity for confinement of our own consumption and draw attention to others’ needs.

Maybe those two points, shallow engagement despite omnipresence and a focus on limitations of our consumption, are related. We are reluctant to make explicit the distinction between our needs and those of others, even though we are acutely aware of its necessity.

However, this is exactly where the beauty of both the ‘shopping divider’ and ‘sustainability’ could lie: in marking the confines of our needs, they enable us to direct attention to our fellow human beings. We begin to acknowledge that we are ‘in this together’, urgently needing to demonstrate our ‘ability to sUStain’.

 

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The editors are Robert Butler and Wallace Heim. The associate editor is Kellie Gutman. The editorial adviser is Patricia Morison.

Robert Butler’s most recent publication is The Alchemist Exposed (Oberon 2006). From 1995-2000 he was drama critic of the Independent on Sunday. See www.robertbutler.info

Wallace Heim has written on social practice art and the work of PLATFORM, Basia Irland and Shelley Sacks. Her doctorate in philosophy investigated nature and performance. Her previous career was as a set designer for theatre and television/film.

Kellie Gutman worked with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for twenty years, producing video programmes and slide presentations for both the Aga Khan Foundation and the Award for Architecture.

Patricia Morison is an executive officer of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, a group of grant-making trusts of which the Ashden Trust is one.

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