Frugal innovation has recently become one of my great loves, but I think my honey moon period with this idea is over and I am now looking at it more critically than I had before. Frugal innovation no doubt has unparallel potential to cure our problems of over engineering products and doing more with less. However, it is not just the act of becoming lean we should focus on. It is important to look at why we consume the way that we do. Leaner and cheaper products will no doubt come from developing countries, but does this mean that we would want to consume them compared to their western equivalents? I speak from experience.
I recently lost my phone (a blackberry curve) and ended up using my old Samsung from a previous life, that I now take when I go on holiday. It performed many of the same functions as the blackberry (except the sound was awful and some of the buttons were jammed). Yet, I decided to upgrade my phone and not repair my Samsung. To upgrade it was free, so the incentives to repair were few. Furthermore, I didn’t choose the same phone I had previously, but wanted to upgrade to an iPhone. I had the choice to use a product that was cheaper, less energy intensive and performed the same key functions that I require. Instead, I picked a more expensive product that I quite frankly don’t know how to use, to perform the same functions that I could get with the cheaper alternative.
If I, a student of the Environment, who is doing her dissertation on a topic that encompasses the art of living simply, cannot practice frugal innovation in my choices, then what right do I have to advise others on it………It has hit me deeply, but I am honestly not sure how far I should go with frugality. One thing is certain, I have to make serious changes with the way that I think and consume.