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Sophie Kinsella, the author of the Confessions of a Shopaholic novels, captured the very essence of consumerism when she wrote that “Shopping is actually very similar to farming a field. You can’t keep buying the same thing you have to have a bit of variety.Otherwise you get bored and stop enjoying yourself.”
Consumerism is defined as the preoccupate ion of society with the acquisition of consumer goods, in layman’s terms consumerism is simply the love of acquiring material goods. It is the desire to acquire.Like with anything, the ideology of consumerism has its pros and it also has its fair share of cons. The interesting thing to note however is that with consumerism the pros cannot work without the cons nor can the cons work without the pros.The society we live in today would not be what it has become without consumerism.Consumerism has created mass markets, fuelled industrialization and has encouraged competition amongst companies which has incited new innovative ideas that have led to the creation of new products.
However, most of these newly created products don’t have a long lasting effect on the societies they are introduced to and tend to fade out throughout the years-this can be considered as a negative aspect of consumerism as it results in an oversaturated market.
2In addition, people want more, it is human nature to want more than what you have.Consumerism encourages this, it spurs the desire for more, more shoes and clothes, more money, a better car, a larger house…Therefore people will never be satisfied, we all have what Jim Collins, a famed business author, describes as “the undisc iplined pursuit of more”.
Good is never good enough and that sparks a need to do more in order to have more. An increase in the productivity of a country can be considered as a positive aspect of consumerism as it ensures that more people are working, making consumers wealthier and business more profitable and in turn enabling higher government tax revenues.On the other hand, the increase in productivity has a negative impact on the environment. William Rees, an urban planner at the University of British Columbia,estimated that it requires four to six hectares of land to sustain the consumption level of the average person from a high consumption country.
Consumption, of course, is needed for capitalism to work. The more that is produced and the more that is purchased spurs the progress and prosperity of our society, despite this the production, processing and consumption of commodities requires the gathering and use of natural resources; it requires the creation of factories and factory buildings whose operation creates toxic byproducts while the use of the commodities themselves, such as cars, creates pollution and waste.
This sets off a never ending vicious cycle. People Want more than what they have, demand is always going to exist, this means that businesses have to satisfy consumers demands and they can’t do that without extracting natural resources to create the consumers desired product. This not only leaves us with what we assume are short term effects of pollution but it also guarantees that future generations will be stuck with a depleted earth, completely stripped of its natural resources.There are three sacred bonds on this earth. A mother and son, a priest and a confessor and…man and his credit card. The need to acquire is undeniably innate. It motivates us to do better, to think harder and to work at our full potential. However, we need to think about the effects our greed has on the environment, it is a high price to pay that unfortunately cannot be discounted.
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