Where are we going?

An update on life in Spain and the impressions I get, and a retrospection on our modern lives.

Where are we going with all of this? I mean, where is this technological era taking us? Are we evolving or devolving? I have realised the more time I spend in the city the more I would like to go back to what the earth was like a good few decades ago.

As humans, we might not always listen to our need to for being surrounded by nature. But when we pause our busy lives for a second and take a break, visit a forest, or a lake or somewhere isolated we can experience the connection. In my case, I feel complete when I’m close to the sea. I feel the need of being near, in, or on it. I just cannot explain the feeling of happiness and fondness for that great body of water. There is a magical overwhelming sensation that surrounds the sea, and when I go in I feel embraced. Then, nothing is important anymore. We are finally one.

As we come and go, and fill our most primary needs such as eating or paying rent by working we focus on the city lifestyle, and end up losing the connection. In fact, we don’t even need it, there are many more important things in life like making money. Being promoted. Buying things. Having a good social image. Social media.

It’s all things we have created. A frivolous life we feed while someone makes sure we don’t question it – mainly the media. Which makes me think of big companies buying, selling, buying, selling. Fast fashion. They exploit workers in 3rd world countries so we can comfortably buy clothes or shoes for a ‘fair price’. We should ask the workers how fair it actually is. But we all know about it. Nike exploits children. H&M, Gap, Primark, Zara (Inditex)… exploit garment workers in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Brazil, Morocco, Tunisia, Vietnam. And don’t get me started on Apple. We turn a blind eye, because getting clothes or things from non-mainstream brands is too complicated. Because we’d rather have a crappy life in which we spend most of our day in a low paid job (Spain) in order to re-pay the mortgage we’ve got, and of course we cannot afford ethical brands nor can we be bothered to find them online – even when it takes less than two minutes.

This country is funny like that. Spain is full of corrupt politicians as everyone knows. But then again, the media is also corrupt, so there won’t be a revolution because everyone has learnt to focus on more important matters. What surprises me is that so many people will defend the system. Many of them are even proud of their country, and will defend the injustice and unjustified unfairness that surrounds us. For example: Politicians are found to be involved in a massive corruption scandal and what do we do? Nothing, we worry about the situation in Catalonia, and we complain about people wanting to be independent (They’re breaking our country!) instead of giving them the opportunity to have a referendum and make them choose democratically what they want. And when they try, like it happened last year, what did the police do? They beat up the people who had gathered ‘illegally’ to vote and have a saying. And what does the media/the country say? They haven’t asked what the rest of Spain wants, what if we want them to be part of us still? How dare they want to vote! – Imagine this situation from a couple’s perspective: ‘John, I want to divorce you’, ‘But Martha, you haven’t asked me what I want, what if I don’t want to divorce you? I want us to be together for life!’ ‘Uhm… Okay John, but I just don’t want that. I don’t love you anymore, I think I’m going to get my things and go somewhere else.’ ‘You can’t do that! That’s not the legal procedure! I’ll call the police to tell them you’ve been a bad wife and make you change your mind!’. And basically that’s what they did. Police brutality of course won the argument.

A year later they still haven’t had their referendum and it would still be illegal to have one. The politicians who carried out the movement had to run away from Spain not to be imprisoned. Which slightly reminds me of the times of the dictatorship in this country – a very controversial topic now as the new government wants to move the corpse of the dictator somewhere less glamorous and good old fascist supporters are coming out of the woodwork to complain about it. There is a Fundación Francisco Franco by the way, which is the equivalent to Hitler having a foundation to honour him and have meetings every now and then to remember his glorious soul. Meanwhile the rest of the world tries to comprehend the craziness of the situation, whereas in Spain it is something completely normal. (The president of the foundation even speaks on national TV!)

We are the sons and daughters, the grandchildren of that dictatorship, and many many people won’t ever be able to see the atrocities committed by a murderer. Instead, they’ll only see that there wasn’t criminality on the streets – curfew; whoever was an opositor could go to prison and be tortured if discovered. People like gays, or lesbians were put in psychiatric institutions for many years in an attempt to make them ‘normal’ again. But of course none of this would affect you if you were a good loyal supporter of the right wing dictatorship.

A couple of months ago I couldn’t see much difference between Spain and the UK on many aspects, but now I do:

Coming back from the UK, Spain seems to be a very backward country. In their politics, their infrastructure, education system, bureaucracy, and their high tolerance towards deceitfulness. A very disappointed image to be unchanged (I left precisely because of that). In a way, I’d like to stay to work on fixing it. As a journalist, I believe I have a voice and should be used to create awareness and fight against injustice. However circumstances force me to stay only for a while before returning to the UK.

We have a plan though, we want to live in the countryside, isolated from the world for a few hours a day. In contact with nature on good quality walks with my (now two) dogs. We adopted one here as I know Spain has a much higher dog abandonment rate, the highest in Europe apparently.

And while I can, I will try to ignore that companies listen in and record random bits of conversation through my phone, that my life will be dedicated to work in order to pay for a piece of land, that modern slavery does exist, and all those normalised horrible aspects of the human world.

Please buy ethic. There’s a bunch of brands that do only ethical clothes and whose workers are paid a fair salary and work in good conditions.

Please stay in touch with nature. For your own health. Do not forget that we are here on this planet to take care of it, we are lucky enough to see it and experience it. Life is so much more than making money or having thousands of followers.

I’ll stop rambling now, thanks for reading and a happy week to you!

H&M sparks controversy again

Magazine articles By M.S.

It was over a month ago when Danish TV programme Operation X accused H&M of burning 60 tonnes of unsold clothing. H&M then denied the accusations and a spokesperson said ‘The clothes featured in the program are stopped orders that have been sent to incineration because of mould or not complying with our strict chemical restrictions.’

The Danish TV programme then took two garments from the incineration plant and tested them to find nothing. H&M published their own findings as well –high levels of lead and mould which the Danish did not test for.

Sweden’s Prime Minister for the Environment, Karolina Skog said ‘the first question that strikes me is why are there so high levels of chemicals in the product that they can not be sold.’

Unfortunately the incineration of harmful, dangerous or unwanted clothing is still common practice and not only H&M was found guilty. Vero Moda, Only and Jack & Jones were splashed with accusations too. H&M nevertheless has captured the media’s attention with their alleged interest and commitment to recycling.

H&M in a statement to FashionUnited responded ‘all products that are safe to use are sold in our stores or are reused and recycled. In addition, we want our customers to know that the clothes we have collected in our stores through our garment collecting initiative are directly sent for reuse and recycling.’

As well as burning 19 tonnes of new clothes in Västeras in 2016, the Swedish Company has now been found guilty of falsely claiming the donation of goods to charities.

H&M claimed on their website that Caritas, Red Cross and Oxfam have received clothing from them. This has been denied by the charities. Communications manager at Oxfam Sweden said ‘Of course it’s regrettable when the published information is wrong. It’s sad if our brand is used in this way’.

The Swedish company declared the information on their website to be out-dated, instead giving the name of another charity they donate to – Helping Hands. Yet this one stated to have terminated collaboration with H&M and having not received any clothes in a year and a half.
H&M then decided to remove any content from their website that involved charities.

The clothing brand has set up goals to remove all hazardous chemicals from its products by 2020. We’ll have to wait and see…