In this new series, I want to do something a little different by sharing some wisdom on topics that we are frequently asked about in the shop, terms that I come across in my research when considering new products for the shop, or just general interests. The first in this series is the principle of dialectical thinking.
The fundamental of this term is that everything is composed of opposites, and to fully understand anything, we need to understand both opposites. It has many uses across multiple fields of academics and could be applied to many aspects (if not everything) in life.
Bringing it to an aspect of sustainable living though, you may have heard the phrase: “Think Globally, Act Locally” which is frequently used to prompt people to think about the daily actions they take, or the products they buy in the local community and how this may ripple out to the health of the whole planet (for example: switching energy provider to use a higher or maybe even a lower mix of renewable energy) or adversely affect the people involved in those actions taken or products bought (for example: buying a chocolate bar from a manufacturer that doesn’t have an ethical view on cocoa sourcing).
However, if you apply dialectic thinking to this principle then you should “Think Globally, Think Locally”, as well as “Act Globally, Act Locally” to make sure that you understand the daily actions you take or purchases you make, meaning that you should THINK how things could have an EFFECT locally AND globally.
As an example, it's important to not only think about the ethics of the item you are buying, but also the supply chain including the retail outlet. With the ease and convenience of online shopping and buying
almost anything in a few clicks, it can be easy to forget some of these principles and ethics. Think, could you buy the same item at a similar price at a local outlet for a similar price to support your local economy, and maybe cut the carbon emissions of getting the product by walking or cycling to make the purchase.
How this translates to what we do at The Bare Alternative is that we need to closely consider many aspects surrounding the products we choose to stock. These aspects range from the choice (or sometimes intentional omission) of ingredients in the product, the people involved with manufacturing the product and if any certifications such as Fairtrade are used to ensure fair wages are paid in
industries that are known for slavery, any intermediate packaging used for but also how the product is transported, the end of life and any packaging involved for the product and how all of this may affect the person that purchases the product from us.
After learning about dialectic thinking, it has helped me to better understand these decisions I am making to promote and move forward the ethos of the shop, and I hope you find this a useful way to consider some decisions you make in your consumer choices and personal life.
This is a term that I came across while listening to episode 302 of a brilliant podcast called Green Dreamer. Each episode has a different guest on to talk about their area of expertise in a wide range of sustainable areas, topics and projects. Some of the discussion can go a little deep on certain topics, but I learned so much about topics that I didn't even know were ecological issues.