Fast food, fast fashion, fast lifestyles that focus on throwaway culture; what is our world coming to? When did we become obsessed with disposable everything and an apparent bent to drown the planet in junk? I believe we call that Consumerism and we have been working towards it since the industrial revolution.
The Downside of Consumerism
During the 1800s, the rise of machine-based production increased at a rapid rate. The industrial revolution allowed items to be produced rapidly at a cheaper rate, and the world took notice. By the 1920s, North America embraced a buy now, pay later culture beside the growing emergence of department stores. Everyone wanted the newest thing, and with the power of credit, it was now in the average person’s grasp. This was helped along after World War II, when the government encouraged spending to bolster the flagging economy. Unfortunately, things haven’t changed much since then.
Today, the problem lies in the planned obsolescence of so many items. Appliances wear out faster than ever before. The media pushes us to buy the newest technologies. Our lives have become so hyper-scheduled that fast food is the easiest solution to keep our bodies nourished while on the run. Even our clothing is more and more disposable at an alarming rate. We need to keep up with the Joneses, but at what price? The health of ourselves and our planet.
It is estimated that there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050. 64% of adults over the age of 18 are considered overweight or obese. Fast fashion is a huge contributor to global clothing waste, not to mention environmental damage. The statistics are alarming. All of these hallmarks of consumerism have a tarnished edge when looked at closely. But we still keep on shopping.
So what can we do to reduce the harm we are inflicting on our planet? It wouldn’t hurt to tap on the brakes of consumerism. Instead of jumping on the newest bandwagon of trends, take stock of yourself, your closets, and your lifestyle. Embrace a simpler mindset and a culture that is a little kinder to our world. A few simple changes can go a long way in slowing our appetite for bigger and better at the risk of our health.
Tips to Curb Consumerism
- fix old or broken items to extend their life
- repurpose old clothing into new fashion
- shop secondhand stores
- choose high quality goods that last, to reduce the need to buy cheap products that wear out repeatedly
- find joy in what you have versus coveting the newest trends
- make new products from scratch
- support artisans and hand crafters
- eat out less often
- choose experiences over things with your buying power
- support businesses that embrace a reduce, reuse and recycle mindset (like Load of Rubbish!)
Do you really need the newest phone, if yours is only 6 months old? Will you truly be happier with that shirt and wear it more than once before throwing it out? Is a macchiato from the mall really in your best interest or would a coffee from home in your travel mug be a better choice for the planet?
Think about what you spend your money on and make your decisions wisely. You just might find yourself a whole lot happier and possibly a little wealthier at the end of the day.