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Consumerism, an essential call upon the need to re-evaluate and resolve an individual’s mindset regarding being a consumer. This statement has been derived from various analysis and statistics as people tend to over-consume the resources which now they take for granted. An average scale of overconsumption across the world would be around 80% of the goods and services produced by the earth’s resources ( Sagoff, 1997). As a result, it leads to the tremendous amount of wastage which in return harms not only the living beings found on the globe but sadly the earth itself would face destruction. As time goes on, if unattempted actions are availed, the world indeed would come to an end for its marvelous resources. Well before indulging deeper into the issue, let’s consider what consumerism is?
Consumerism is an acquisition by the society for possessing consumer goods. It’s an act of voluntary basis for inheriting products or disclaiming them. Any normal human being would need to consume things to survive on their daily basis as their routine. Although we like to think of ourselves as civilized thinkers, we’re subconsciously still driven by an impulse for domination, expansion, and survival. It is an impulse which now finds expression in the idea that unappeasable economic growth is the answer to everything and in the given time, it will improve all the world’s existing inequalities. ( Coghlan, 2009 ). However, the rise of consumerism has had a prejudicial impact on the planet. For example, clothes and apparel from the fashion and textiles industries are made using extensive amounts of energy, chemical, raw materials, and water, all of which place heavy demands on Earth’s natural resources. Increasing consumerism may also result in “a shift away from values of integrity, spirituality, and community, and toward competition, materialism and disconnection,” said University of SIM’s Dr. Wei, quoting US psychologist Madeline Levine, who has up to 30 years of experience.
And also adding on, according to a study in the peer-reviewed monthly journal Psychological Science in 2012, Dr. Wei has mentioned that consumerism may also lead to depression. Prof Calvert added that people are sustaining punitive levels of debt and working for long hours to pay for their high-consumption lifestyle, which results in spending less time with their family, friends, and community organizations. “Indeed, some believe consumerism as a culture is threatening the foundation of our global society” ( Baker, 2016 ). As consumers, we need to eat in order not to become famished. We wear clothes every day not only to uphold the standards of modesty but also to keep in trend with the latest fashion styles. Consumerism can be found and used in many ways.
All of us, in every part of the world, is consuming something on every second. Well, it is vital to know when the act of consumption is used unethically. Thus, what is it that provokes humankind to continue with such unwholesome practices and to be ignorant of it despite knowing the outcomes of it. The following paragraphs would look into several articles to support the open statement of misusage of privileges concerning consumerism. The first agenda to this attachment is “Fashion” when we say fashion what comes to your mind? Icon, trend, culture, etc. An author describes fashion to be a necessity or a significant cause to overcome boundaries to be free. She quotes “Fashion, to me, represents life. When I wear something that makes me feel more interesting, stronger, creative, complicated — that’s when I feel the most alive, the most engaged with the world. Changing my wardrobe is the quickest route to feeling like everything is new again, that anything is possible.
So the purpose of fashion is to make you feel alive and present. I hate it when people get too philosophical about fashion, but this really is the truth!” ( Medine, 2018 ). As per the author of this articles she claims that fashion is something that brings a form of relief and comfort to one’s being, and it dignifies joy in this case when one is habitually attached in the practice of consistent wardrobe change-over. But would such practices be recalled as a healthy one? Are the consumers aware of what its consequences or even the after effect of consumerism on a vast scale would turn out to be? In research found in an article by Gunther ( 2016 ), he says, that the fashion industry is to be rated as the world’s second largest polluter of all time and also it is known for its expansive of usage of water. She also quotes, “Recycling has become a rallying cry in the apparel industry, with H&M as its most vocal evangelist.
The Swedish firm launched a 1-million euro contest an effort to seek out ideas for turning old clothes into new ones by investing in Worn Again, a company that is developing textile recycling technology, and enlisted hip-hop artist to produce a music video called “Rewear.” This activity was conducted to highlight the importance of garment collecting and recycling.”— that is, an industrial system in which everything at the end of its life is made into something new, in contrast to today’s economy, where most consumer goods are produced, used, and then thrown away. Thus, throwaway clothing culture has been a proclivity where people are so lost in their own self-centered allies to the extent of not being enlightened of the negative impacts that come along with it. To add on, nothing happens with ease or out of convenience, in this world everything is required with a strenuous effort to be manufacture something in the very first place. By Moulds (n.d), she emphasizes that child laboring has an estimation of 170 million which is 11% of the global population of children, according to the International Labour Organisation who are engaged with many making textiles and garments to satisfy the demand of consumers in Europe, the US, and beyond.
Despite hearing that child labor has been banned in various regions across the globe yet, it’s existence continues to dwell due to fast fashion. As one to indulges deeper, it is proven through statistics by The ILO that an estimated amount of 6 million children are in forced labor. As individuals who is being aware of all this inappropriate act of will, will we still be driven to support or indirectly involve ourselves by consuming clothing goods imprudently? The next sector of consumerism which is to be analyzed is technology. On a scale of per diem, each of us inherit the least of 2 gadgets per individual. And what happens to the previous devices? Are they recycled or disposed of as per one’s convenience? And do these electronic goods discharge chemicals in the long run? Through this article ( Boh, 2018 ), it acknowledges that in the local contrary of Singapore itself produces an estimated amount of 60000 tonnes of e-waste per annum. As per a study conducted by the global think-tank United Nations University estimates that about 109,000 tonnes of e-waste (19.5kg per person) were generated in 2014, making Singapore the second-largest generator of e-waste in the region and second to Hong Kong (21.7kg). This puts the Republic ahead of Japan (17.3kg), South Korea (15.9kg) and Taiwan (18.6kg).
In the year 2017, it is estimated that 44.7 million e-waste has been generated throughout the entire world which is likely equivalent to 9 pyramids of Giza. This helps people to be enlightened that the amount of wastage being given off is not to be taken lightly in one’s perspective. What happens with all these wastages? Are they recycled? Or have they been carelessly thrown away? Through a Nea survey, 60% of people have been found unaware or unsure with a proper way of e-waste disposal. These gadgets are usually traded in for, re-sold, thrown away or even passed down through a delivery man. All e-waste contains small amounts of hazardous materials, ranging from heavy metals such as mercury found in batteries and lead found in TV’s, to ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons found in refrigerators. But such items often end up in the hands of scrap traders and rag-and-bone men, who do not possess the proper skill of recycling items safely and due to this they may unknowingly discharge chemical compounds which are harmful to both the health and the environment. Long-term exposure to these compounds would positively affect the kidneys, nervous system, bones, reproductive system, and hormonal balance. The chemicals are also non-biodegradable and can persist in the environment for a very long time.
In today’s context, people constantly upgrade their gadgets in a fast-paced manner. V. “Seenu” Srinivasan, the Adams Distinguished Professor of Management at Stanford GSB, and Sang-Hoon Kim, assistant professor of marketing at Seoul National University and a former student of Srinivasan’s, created a mathematical model that looks into the sales path of a new version of an existing product. The greater the gap between the incremental benefit of the upgrade and its hindrances, the greater the probability that the consumer will upgrade within a given month. ( Staff, 2004). Many technology companies are trying to encourage people to constantly upgrade their gadgets or part ways with their former devices when a new one comes along. Companies like Apple, AT&T, and T-Mobile USA now offer early upgrade plans which allow consumers to buy a new cell phone every year. Philip W. Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president for worldwide marketing, said that during a product event that it was “really sad” that more than 600 million computers in use today are within the range of five years and below. Indeed, consumers are somehow forced to or inclined to make such updates as to keep up with the fast-paced world. In the following sub-disclosure, Plastic is a utility used every single day. For example, it has been used for personal purposes such as to pack food, to throw rubbish, to store appliances and so on.
But where does it originate from? And are its resources perpetual? “A lot of Singaporeans see plastic bag usage as a right, not a privilege,” said Ms. Jessica Cheam, the founder of online publication Eco-Business. “The problem is that people take far more bags than they need.” Worldwide, a plastic bag is consumed on an average of every 12 minutes before it is discarded. “Many of them just go into the incinerators, and worse, they end up in oceans,” said Ms. Cheam. If no actions were to be taken, then there are going to be more plastics than fish in the ocean by 2050. But even most of the bags sent for recycling are usually discarded. For example, shredding and recycling company Impetus Conceptus ends up recycling about 30 to 40 percent of the bags it receives because the rest would be contaminated. Contaminated as in with food, oil, and other stuff,” said its business development director Thomas Wong. ( Paulo & Yuxin, 2018 )
In another article, it speculates on the after effects when it reaches the ocean. All sea creatures, from the largest to the tiniest organisms, are, at one point or another, taking in the seawater soup instilled with toxic chemicals from plastic decomposition. The “Silent World” is shedding mermaid tears. Plastic is lightweight, moisture resistant, flexible, versatile, strong, and relatively inexpensive. Those are the attractive qualities that lead us to overconsume plastic goods all around the world. However, plastics are known to be durable and are very slow to degrade. These materials that are used in the production of so many products all, ultimately, become waste with staying power. Our tremendous attraction to plastic, coupled with an undeniable behavioral propensity of increasingly over-consuming, discarding, littering and thus polluting, has become a combination of lethal nature. Plastic-poison has undeniably been instilled and been prompting an unwilling and illegitimate confrontation of two factors which is one, synthetic (plastic) and the other, oceanic.
The world population “… (is) Eating fish that have eaten other fish, which have eaten toxin-saturated plastics. In essence, humans are eating their own waste.” (Guern, 2018 ) As we move on to the cohering topic of consumerism, it lands to beauty products. Women are known for their undying passion for beauty for centuries. But now, things are way more different. Children and even Man have found a fondness for such beauty products. It is indeed understandable if one were to pursue such desires to maintain the norm beauty standards. But what comes along is an ugly truth or sympathetical way of mass production. In the hilly forests of rural Jharkhand, India, children as young as ten are hammering flakes of rock off the mountainside. Others, mostly young girls, carry baskets of rocks to the top of the mine to sort through their contents. Their job is to separate glittering fragments from the rock debris. These fragments are called “Mica,” the mineral that adds shimmer to beauty products such as eyeshadow, foundation, blusher, and lipstick, as well as to the paints used by the construction industries and cars. Yet more than a decade after cosmetics suppliers were alerted to its existence, child laboring remains ubiquitous in mica mining in the two states of Bihar and Jharkhand. An estimation of up to 20,000 children are estimated to work in the mine, and also around 90% of them are illegal, a recent report by NGOs Terre des Hommes and SOMO.
Thus, to conclude the emphasize goes back to the individual itself where one has to come to the realization that what we consume has it’s after effects. Man’s inclination to consume has captivated an ignorant form of behavior to awareness and the negative impacts it afflicts upon nature and human beings. A thorough foundation has to be set up to instill the need to have a conscious and sensible mind in rationalizing the good with the bad. By means of this, one will definitely be aware of one’s deeds. Education here plays a mandatory role in doing so. A better future can be secured with a meticulous implementation of proper consumerism.
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