Some of you are preparing to zoom off to a beautiful scenic getaway and some have planned a fun-filled city break for these holidays. I’m taking this chance to ask you to pause and look at the big picture. At our only home. The Earth. It is what we all have in common. I am glad there are eco-warriors and environmental activists all over the world who are making sure that we continue to enjoy the bluest of skies and oceans and red, green and gold of the forests…
Broken is a four-part documentary series that will make you pause and take notice.
Was never a fan of the clunky designs of American furniture, apart from those solid Adirondack chairs and have always hankered for the chrome and cowhide Kardiel lounger designed by Le Corbusier. IKEA had the designs best suited for homes where you craved for simplicity. Clean lines and colours that soothed your soul. But to watch the documentary where IKEA is shown to be responsible for decimating old protected forests in faraway lands like Romania and Ukraine and pretending to ‘not know’ that the wood used by them was illegal, you feel guilty. And the stories of toddler deaths caused by tipping over of cheap, light furniture bought at IKEA, Target and Walmart breaks your heart.
Consumer protection services need a huge overhaul no matter where we live. Redressal processes need to be made simpler so that more corporations will think twice before allowing their unsafe products to be released out to the public.
Speaking of unsafe, sometimes I am glad India tends to ban newfangled products like e-cigarettes. I have been fascinated by the beautifully designed 'Juul' ever since it came out in the market. I wasn’t so enamoured about ‘Vaping’ simply because of the amount of smoke coming out of people’s mouth when they vape. But it’s got flavours and its banks on the idea that you don’t smell like an ashtray which makes you want to try it just one time.
That’s why so many teenagers have taken to vaping in such a big way. Many of us empty nesters now have one more thing to worry about because our children are studying in the USA. Vaping is no longer a future epidemic, it is already one. The documentary shows us how the UK is using Vaping as a tool to stop smoking, and it’s a tough sell to see a pregnant woman vape.
If you are thinking of travelling to beautiful Langkawi or climbing the mountains at Kinabalu in Malaysia, then this part of the documentary series will fascinate you. This documentary connects the petrochemical giants like Exxon Mobil and others in the United States (Houston and Laredo in Texas) to Shenzhen in China to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. But the subject is something we all should worry about: our planet is overrun with plastic we cannot recycle. And it’s not just about banning single-use plastic bags and straws and cups. It’s about how the next time we decide to order fish at dinner not realising that the fish has been eating microplastics in the ocean.
There are no studies that link the heatwaves in the oceans to plastics we have dumped in the waters, but I am convinced that there are links we have not yet learned to make, and I dread the day we realise soil is dying slowly with the plastic in the landfills.
Getting rather morbid, am I? The fourth documentary in the series drives your attention to the need women (and men) have to look good. Yes, I’m talking about makeup. I know many people who are Insta addicts watching social media influencers do make up. Before you dismiss this addiction as nothing, understand that China manufactures over a billion dollars worth of make up that is genuine. Which means there are many, many more customers using these products. Gone are the days where women pinched their cheeks in order to 'get some colour' to meet the men in their lives. Today, Instagrammers and YouTubers persuade you to buy makeup better than the pretty girls at a mall who spray you with perfume. If we are buying everything online, then what stops fakes from making it to our dressing table?
I was horrified at what goes into making the fakes... The shortcuts and the resulting skin diseases will put you off the very idea of buying fancy brands off a street-side shop crammed with all kinds of interesting makeup kits. And a warning to check the price of things when we buy off online stores like Amazon. If the street vendor is selling a brand (and the fakes look almost like the genuine thing!) at hundred of rupees less than the original, think of how we will have to pay the doc for our greed...
My heart went out to the kids in the documentary who bought fake make up simply because they’re buying self-esteem in trying to look like the influencers they follow. Brands have used all kinds of persuasive means to sell you things, and I could not help but smile at the sheer chutzpah of the Chinese fake manufacturers who would vanish even before the American detectives showed up pretending to be buyers.
Before you go off on a holiday shopping spree in some exotic spot and buy 'genuine fakes', just remember what you have seen in this documentary series and then open your wallet. We will all have to change the way we live, and perhaps help heal this planet we call home.
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. Read her columns