I think consumerism is an important yet touchy subject this time of year. In this post, I’m referring to the definition of consumerism as the idea that buying more goods and products is a positive action. I have a lot of issues with my personal role in consumerism, and for me it is a complex subject.
First, why are we drawn to consume items that are not necessities? In a nutshell:
- We are told over and over through the media that buying lots of things is good and patriotic and normal
- We often get an emotional high from purchasing items
- We often use products to fill a void in ourselves (boredom, loneliness, low self-esteem, etc.)
Why do I have a personal issue with consumerism? For a few reasons:
- I realize I’ve been at least a little brainwashed by society into believing that I need to buy things
- It’s not ecologically beneficial to the planet to constantly purchase raw goods that had to be harvested, produced in a factory, shipped overseas, and distributed
- I enjoy trying new products but I am a frugal person at heart – these two things are in direct conflict with each other
- The idea of “keeping up with the Joneses'” is alive and well, sadly. When we see others enjoying their shiny new items, we often have an instinct to get something shiny as well. We are only human.
- I don’t want to raise my daughter to believe that buying things brings fulfillment or self-worth
How do I fight my urge to constantly buy new “things”? I try to use moderation, or what I might refer to as a kind of conscious consumerism.
As a simple example, let’s say I really want a new face cream – but I still have half a jar of my current face cream. I might try to justify a new purchase by telling myself that it is a better product, but if what I have works well, I use up what I already have first.
There are other times I have something already (a pair of jeans) but I rationalize that because I wear jeans year-round, new jeans are a worthy purchase if I am getting a good deal. A cute dress that I will likely wear once a year? Not a worthy purchase to me, even if it’s on sale at a fantastic price.
Most of us enjoy buying things – it’s part of who we are as a society and there are lots of fascinating articles and documentaries and books that go into detail about the rise of consumerism and how it plays in to the human ego. There are even some good quality documentaries and videos on the internet about consumerism.
While consumerism is a part of the society we grew up in, that does not mean we are victims to it – we all play a part in making smarter decisions about what we buy, how often, and how much. Reducing our consumption of goods and, specifically, raw goods, is crucially important for the welfare of our environment. I suggest that if you are interested, do some unbiased research on the internet. This article looks like a great place to start to help us identify if something we are buying is a worthy purchase.
Do you practice conscious consumerism?