We stay for a while in Joshua Tree: Today’s picture shows you a sunset there. Yesterday, in the comment section of my blog, Lorenzo mentioned a question and raised a discussion, referring to my post. I talked about technology changing shopping and logistics patterns. Lorenzo brought up the human factor: “When you say “where I click a button and the sample is mine, shipped within 24 hours”, nowaday, in this real world, this usually means poorly paid intensive jobs, stress, environmental consequences, etc. I feel the solution is not reverting to the good ol’ days of the shop next door, but…anyway, let’s put the human factor where it deserves to stay. Modern technology can be the key of a better world to live in, but also the source of a lot of -very old economy – pains and exploitations…”
What I think about this is rather complex and has many facets. And has not much to do with perfumery, and yet it has a lot to do with running a perfume business and creating perfumes.
First: My perfumes would not exist without the technological changes that we experienced the last 10 years. Without internet and changed production technology my fragrances would never have seen the world. Fragrances are a very luxurious product. In my products you find raw materials and human work from Europe, the Americas, Afrika, Australia and Asia. I try to source as much as I can from Europe, for logistics reasons, and in order to make sure that the working conditions of the people who produce material that I need to create and assemble my scents are treated properly. This is one reason why my scents are expensive to buy.
Second: Yes, in the real world, that we do not like to see, everybody who owns a mobile phone, a pad, a computer, a car, etc. uses natural resources that are very rare and that are produced by destroying habitats of plants, animals and human beings. The production processes of these tools that nourish further technological development involves human labor under conditions that most of us would not accept.
Third: The use of these tools, from phone to computer to car to plane uses energy. A lot of energy. Every single facebook note uses energy. Independent of where this energy comes from, be it wind, solar, water, thermal processes, this energy comes with a price tag of natural resources being used, land being used, of natural balances being shifted. Drive from LA to Joshua Tree and see the huge wind turbines and how they destroy the beauty of a desert valley. And yes, to see it you better get a car.
Having said this: Each of us has a choice, daily. We are free to get a phone or not. We are free to raise our voice to ask for better working conditions of our friends, family and people working for us abroad. Actually, I think it is important not to feel guilty and loaded with sin, but to take action there where we can.
And: Ultimately, only technology will save us from the cruelties of nature and mankind. Mother nature does not care about human beings suffering. Technology allows us to create a space in a cold universe where we are warm and protected, without hunger and pain. It is up to us to make sure that we all use technology to create this cozy space.
I use natural rose absolutes in my fragrances. Behind these absolutes are Bulgarian women picking the flowers early in the morning. There are engineers building the machinery to extract the flowers. There are truck drivers brining the rose absolute to my place. There are IT specialists allowing me to add the rose absolute to the list of ingredients in my Excel and there are Chinese workers allowing me to turn on my computer. And there are pilots flying large planes over the ocean to transport boxes with rose fragrances to Los Angeles.