Dad, why do people buy stuff they don’t need?
This month's Memo from the Deck Chairman looks at how we're tackling our culture of wastage, and the associated implications on the superyacht industry.…
There is a big green debate growing across our market, where everyone wants to prove how much they are doing to save the oceans and the planet. While at the same time, organisations are trying to understand how much money a superyacht contributes to local economies whenever they moor, stern-to. Then, in addition, we as an industry tend to look for justifications and purpose for the yachts we create. But perhaps there is bigger problem on the horizon that we all need to be prepared for, and perhaps we have to listen to our children to understand what’s coming.
During a recent dinner with my three teenage children, there was a clear and candid comment, where they all explained that many of the people we know just have too much of what they don’t really need. In fact, they all suggested that the world of consumerism has gone a little mad, and while it’s nice to own things or spend money on stuff that makes us feel good, it is clear that the next generation starts to question whether we need things; and, if we don’t buy things, whether the money can be put to better use.
Again, an American friend of mine living in London, who has been very successful and could easily afford a small superyacht, has actually checked out of the city, sold two of his properties and is now focused on making a socially accepted economic impact by working on personal philanthropic projects, the results of which he can actually see.
Then, more recently, there was a story in the wider media that suggested the world of fashion has to re-think its environmental and economic impact, as everyone buys too many clothes that they never wear, that are manufactured in poor economies with less than acceptable wage systems and working conditions, and typically cheap and disposable so you replace them regularly.
So perhaps we are heading into a future of reduced consumption, less waste or excess, and the concept of not needing too many things will become the more intelligent approach; we only consume what we need, when we need it. The future is not too far away, and while we talk about the ocean being impacted by our disposable and wasteful culture, there is also the concept of energy consumption being a major obstacle for certain next-generation buyers. Renewables, solar, bio-fuels and intelligent energy-efficient systems are what excites the next generation, as they can feel good about the idea of being smart and investing in new technologies.
We just need to have as much fun as possible, feel good while we’re doing it and not cause a negative social or economic impact to those who are around us.
Even a major superyacht like sailing yacht Black Pearl, a significantly energy-efficient sailing yacht project, or sailing yacht Ethereal, a project built several years ago with future proofing in the plan, all suggest that our future is not so much about how much guests and owners spend locally, but how smart the yacht is; how little energy is used, how much material is saved or reduced during manufacture, the sustainability of the on-board systems, what innovations can be developed that could help push future boundaries in other industries and, perhaps like the Espen Øino-designed REV project, is built as a ‘Superyacht of Purpose’. A purpose that is respected, admired and recognised as being intelligent, responsible and smart, and not part of a voyeuristic world of ‘oohs and ahhs’ from those who admire ostentation or conspicuous consumption.
Maybe the future of superyachts is all about how efficient, renewable or purposeful they are, because, like everyone knows, no one needs a superyacht or 10 houses or 20 cars or an ever-changing wardrobe. We just need to have as much fun as possible, feel good while we’re doing it and not cause a negative social or economic impact to those who are around us. To attract the brave new owners, we have to think about a brave new world and make sure what we do starts to make sense.
This, and many other smart topics, will be discussed at The Superyacht Forum in Amsterdam this November. It should be interesting, to say the least …
To find out more about the topics covered at The Superyacht Forum, and why you should attend, please click here.
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