Clicks for Change:

Rectangular screens and shopping sprees


A collaborative project between

writer James Francis Whitehead

and photographer Josh David Payne

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All it takes are swipes and clicks; a dance of the fingers that connect with the keyword. Prodding at the machinery of mass consumption, churning more wants, more needs. The home gorges so much plastic it can’t digest, so what’s left but to throw them in bins, out with the rest.

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And what of those materials that are birthed from conflict in Congo, and fed into modern tech that is designed to fail?


We can’t stop because that’s how it’s built. We can’t slow down because the system would flatline. We, as individuals, seem less citizens and more consumers; our job is to buy to keep it alive.


But price tags and free shipping are bundled with hidden charges. Immaterial and not counted, yet a high cost to the planet. 

While we tilt our screens backwards to browse online, there’s something still magic about connecting the virtual with the physical; that when “Buy Now” is clicked it kickstarts a chain of back-end systems that communicate with the entire landscape of the economy – from banks and manufacturers to shipping and delivery. 

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From the warehouse to your house, stacks of emissions shadow your online orders. Your LEGO pieces and sneakers are not pulled straight out of the screen. Their journey to you is long.

Those cheaper prices are from far away places.

Fossilized bones of bygone species are thrust into the air.

Plastic toys wrapped in plastic packaging. Mis-sized shoes sent on double journeys from home back to the factory.

These items of plastic-coated coal burn, and fuel the pile that warms the planet, that melts the polar ice caps.

But why do we buy so much shit we don’t need? Is it to compensate for working jobs we hate? For lacking control? We are always chasing that fleeting feeling of contentment, of perfection that is out of reach for humans.

Do we make so many journeys down digital aisles because they’re easier than the longer, more meaningful journeys that are punctuated with difficulty and self-overcoming?

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We know we’re hurting ourselves, our planet, but we can’t seem to stop.

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