Consumption and how we face the consequences


Documentation of the Self-Portrait in Taidehalli from Timo Wright on Vimeo.

Modern society seems to be driven by the massive consumption of goods, for all of its consequent impact in ecology. In an attempt to keep up with our peers we desperately want a new pair of shoes, the new mobile device on the market or that cool touch-screen tablet that everybody is talking about. The crucial question is: Do we really need them or we just want them? Or is it more a question of personal satisfaction to keep up appearances?

There is a global inequality in consumption, while reducing is still high.

The question about consumption and how we face the consequences and impact on the environment brought photographer Timo Wright to create a giant photographic collage made of his own personal objects.

During an interview, Wright told me he was inspired by the book Once We Were Consumers: Four Tales From 2023 by Roope Mokka and Aleksi Neuvonen. Reading the book, Wright found out that an average Finnish family owns an estimated 10,000 objects, whereas a student possesses about 3,500.

Wright successfully explored and illustrated how easily we can become pack rats through the question: What do the things I own say about me? Wright’s collection of his own personal “needed” and “non-needed” possessions were all on display in the form of 3,328 documented photographs that covered the exhibition’s walls at the Taidehalli Studio, in Helsinki, Finland.

In an interesting journey to discover what kind of consumer we are, I encourage you to look at your own possessions in a new light when you have a peaceful moment for introspection at home.

For Wright, paradoxically, some natural disasters can help us discover alternatives to what we are used to. “Sometimes people realise it is possible to use alternative means of transport when flying is not an option.” In the same way this can be applied to almost anything else.

Buying gives pleasure, which lasts a blink of an eye. Recycling can be as expensive as buying, and not always possible. What is the price we are paying for being greedy? Wright attempts to make consumers more conscious about the objects they own and to assess the real need of them. Can we become better, greener consumers? It is worth a try.