Sustainability in action - an ode to the consumer
Do you still remember strolling through the streets with your grandmother as a child and lovingly receiving a Vienna sausage from the local butcher? You, or at that time your grandparents, were still on a first-name basis with the many small shopkeepers and weekly visits to the market square were also of the utmost importance so that you could get fresh vegetables and fruit from the farmers in the surrounding towns. These nostalgic memories are not exclusively reserved for smaller villages, but were also a reality in large cities like Berlin 30 years ago.
Today, now in the 21st century, the small boutiques and shops with their striped marquises have given way to large market leaders and discount chains that dominate most industries and have pushed out small business owners. We rarely know the salespeople in these stores by their first name.
The way we buy and consume goods has also changed fundamentally in just a few decades. We mostly buy groceries at a discount store - occasionally we also go to the health food store or visit the weekly market, but for many people this has now become more of a luxury or the exception. The same applies to clothing, furniture and the value we assign to our consumer goods.
Fast fashion, cheap furniture & loss of value
Supply and demand for clothing and furniture have also changed significantly. While my grandparents still went to the tailor and had new costumes or suits made 1-2 times a year, we now go to larger fashion chains and buy “off the rack” without having to save money for a long time - this doesn't just apply to well-known ones Fast fashion companies, but also for luxury brands that sew and produce in China, the Middle East or India. When was the last time you had a piece of clothing made or tailored? Or have you even done this before? You would hardly throw away a piece of clothing tailored just for you and for which you chose the fabric as quickly as the last dress from the discount store.
Industrialization and internationalization have made it possible for entrepreneurs to produce more cheaply and to obtain cheaper raw materials more easily on an unprecedented scale. The cost of foreign labor and unregulated working conditions in developing countries have also enabled many economic giants to produce even cheaper, faster and more, increasing their sales and profits immeasurably.
The result? We as consumers can buy much more, for less money and with increasing traffic. We can travel by plane more often and cheaper than our parents and grandparents, and we have lost contact and relationships with many areas of our lives and with nature. Meat is packaged and sold in such a way that people largely forget that an animal gives its life for it. We don't even want to start with the water consumption that it takes to produce a steak and how that is bad for our environment. Some people still throw away food without feeling guilty.
Fast fashion is also temptingly presented with pretty models on huge posters and at the checkout we are most likely not necessarily thinking about the person who sews around 500 (!!!) of these items of clothing per day under questionable ethical conditions and in piecework.
Did you know that clothing is one of the biggest environmental burdens of our time? A study by the TU Berlin shows that a white cotton shirt weighing 150 grams causes an average of 3.7 kilograms of CO₂ during its life cycle. The textile industry releases a total of around 1.2 trillion tons of CO₂ every year. The same applies to “cheap furniture”, which is often replaced after just a few years.
Antiques or furniture that our great-grandmother already had at home could often also be found at our grandparents' homes. Today, most people prefer to go to the Swedish furniture giant and replace last year's €200 coffee table with a newer model, simply because last year's cheap coffee table was just one of many purchases to satisfy their own consumer urges. Incidentally, more than 50% of discarded second-hand furniture is not resold or reused, but destroyed.
But does expensive mean better? And did our grandparents and great-grandparents do everything right? No, certainly not - because Vienna sausages don't have a good ecological balance either. They may be forgiven.
Expensive, is certainly not always better or always speaks for good quality and our relatives have also committed some environmental sins. Progress is good and important, but it is not always easy for us as humanity to see the future or think about the next generations. Fortunately, a change in thinking is slowly taking place - our youngest people are once again placing more value on locally produced goods, living more environmentally consciously and trying to keep their ecological footprint low. The new generations also recognize that it may make sense to spend more money on certain consumer goods, such as organic food and quality goods. In some cases, a higher price is an indication that you are getting better quality.
It is also a fact that we attribute more value to things that we spend more money on or that were made just for us and are less willing to quickly discard them. This article is not intended to be an appeal to all of us to fundamentally restructure our lives and live in capitalist or Western abstinence, but it should nevertheless encourage us to rethink and make us more aware of our consumer behavior - from MAGNA Atelier locked in. We also have to constantly find new ways and methods to keep and design our packaging, materials, raw materials and supply chains as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible.
Now we don't want to endlessly list problems and pillory everyone, but rather show solutions and approaches that can be used for us as consumers in everyday life.
How can I consume more sustainably?
Apart from the general rules and guidelines that hopefully most of us are aware of by now (don't use single-use plastic, consume meat consciously and little, only buy fruit and vegetables in season, recycle & upcycle, etc.), we can do the things we buy, attribute more value again. Likewise, we should make sure that as much of what we buy as possible is produced locally.
For our ecological footprint, it is generally advisable to consume quality goods consciously and in small quantities that last a long time and are produced sustainably and locally. As consumers, we should intend to keep a piece of clothing or furniture for as long as possible. And if a dining table If we want it to be in our home for 50 years instead of 5 years, then it can certainly be a little more expensive and of higher quality to purchase.
Consuming sustainably also means that we only replace things when they are no longer functional or when we sell them (not throw them away) for a good reason.
Tables made of marble and natural stone are a good example of long-lasting products and sustainable consumer goods because they have an almost unlimited lifespan - after all, we can still admire marble statues of Michelangelo and ornate marble furniture in the Vatican today.
Also our unique pieces from the re- and upcycled MAGNA glass ceramics, which is made from used glass and surplus glass, is a special one environmentally friendly and sustainable raw material, which is Cradle-to-Cradle certified.
To what extent are the tables and furniture from MAGNA Atelier sustainable?
“We want to create unique pieces of furniture that will be cherished and cared for by our customers’ grandchildren.” — Thumm family
Our production in Germany places immense value on sustainable and environmentally conscious manufacturing processes. We therefore generate the majority of the energy required for production with our own solar systems. We also have a water treatment system with which we recycle the water we use several times. Additionally, we offset the CO₂ emissions of each order by planting two trees and removing three plastic bottles from the oceans. By the way, processing natural stone does not require any energy.
We personally and carefully curate our natural stones from selected quarries. Locally in Saxony-Anhalt, we process the natural stones for you in our factory, in small quantities and only to order, into unique pieces that are already several million years old and are pure natural products. Quality, aesthetics and environmental awareness run through every aspect of our work - from the mining of natural stone in our quarries to the premium shipping delivery to your living room, for which we reduce CO₂ emissions with our partner Greenspark balance.
Sustainability is one of the basic pillars of the MAGNA Atelier – With our collections we actively speak out against the prevailing throwaway culture and would like to be part of the slow consumption movement. With a unique natural stone or an object made from our recycled glass ceramics, you too can have a positive influence on your ecological footprint without sacrificing style and high quality. We
Why not save up for a very special piece of furniture that you can enjoy for years and that was made just for you, rather than buying a soulless, mass-produced table for a smaller amount and then replacing that table with the next one after 1-2 years substitute?
As grandma would say, if you buy cheap, you buy twice (or even three times).