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Our World is Driven by Consumerism and Conspicuous Consumption

by | Mar 30, 2022 | Community, Dystopia




The world is submerged in stuff. The stuff that fills up our closets, house and garage. Stuff that is bought only to be used a couple of times before being thrown out. Stuff that gets washed up on shore and causes billions of tons of waste and carbon dioxide.

And what more impressive is that all this stuff isn’t really necessary to live. Indeed, sometimes we’re less happy because of it. Overconsumption is running out of control. People keep buying things, whether it’s a brand new car, a nice pair of jeans, buying for status, acceptance, desire or because of advertising that knows how to play with our desire. But what are the consequences of all this?

What is consumerism?

In its most basic sense, consumerism is the practice of spending money over one’s means. This concept has roots way back in history, dating as far as the pharaohs of Egypt. Historically, people produced many of their own goods and they lived near the producers.

They produced a wide variety of goods, ranging from their most basic needs to products aimed at the upper class. But in the 20th century, mass production of goods has brought about a separation between producers and consumers.

Consumerism can be positive and negative. While it may stimulate economic growth and innovation, it can also lead to mental and environmental problems. As a result, it is important to find a balance. You do not want to indulge in the pursuit of luxury goods if it is affecting your health or financial stability.

What drives consumerism?

Conspicuous consumption is the act of buying things that you don’t need. It’s common for people to purchase things that they do not need just to show off to others. It is a phenomenon that has come to be known as the “obsession with excess” and is commonly associated with the wealthy. But the phenomenon is not limited to the wealthy. It affects people of all economic classes.

The term was coined by Thorstein Veblen in his 1889 book “The Theory of the Leisure Class.” Veblen noted that people in the middle and upper classes bought luxury items to project their wealth.

While a lot of organizations are increasingly promoting humanitarianism and social consciousness, money is still a symbol of success around the world and luxury goods and services still represent pecuniary distinction.

As such, conspicuous consumption will continue to find a niche among status-conscious consumers. While the concept of ostentatious consumption has multiple roots in social and economic theories, it is not fully understood.

In short, people buy expensive items to impress peers and to achieve higher social status. They do so primarily to project an image of prestige and to raise their status. The need for peer recognition is not necessarily inherent to every individual but it is a trait shared by most of society.

Thus, it is no wonder that conspicuous consumption is a widespread problem and it may even influence the economy. The growing trend of consumerism is damaging our society in a variety of ways. It has been shown to decrease the quality of life.

This practice also leads to increased debt levels in societies. Increasing debt levels is another sign of increased consumerism. It’s a clear sign of a materialistic society where a growing number of people are taking out short-term loans.

person paying with credit card
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

And where many of these loans aren’t being channeled constructively. Today, more than half of all Americans use credit cards but many of those cards aren’t channeled into constructive ways.

It’s also a common misconception that people are obsessed with consumption. Consumers are more often obsessed with their status symbols, such as luxury cars and designer clothes. It’s also important to consider the impact of excessive consumption on society.

An economic system is reliant on constant growth to create profits and thrive. For a business to succeed, outcompete others and ultimately rake in more profits, it must grow and sell more. One of the drivers of this profit and growth engine is advertising.

It is a way to play with people’s desires and to make new and useless products seem fresh, exciting and even essential. That new iPhone, headphones, cars and fast fashion are the digests of this phenomenon.

In short, companies need to make more and more shit to remain effective. So corporations transform these products through marketing from goods that don’t need to exist into necessities to get us to buy more of what they’re making.

Advertising is not telling you what the company’s products are about but instead what you could be with their product. In this way, the products of the company’s profit machine are imposed on us. The so-called life-altering goods in reality change very little of our material circumstances.

These new items developed a new mindset among people. Before this expansion of consumerism, goods were purchased with specific intent whether this was to make work easier or a necessity.  

Studies reveal that after our basic material needs are met, any additional consumption does little to improve happiness. And more consumption and more income do not equate to more happiness.

Mass production is also a driver of consumerism and where so-called high-quality products are produced in bulk in developing countries where labor is cheap. Hence, the price of these goods became cheap enough that a quickly expanding middle class could soon purchase items once considered out of reach.

Impact of consumerism

Overconsumption has a significant negative impact on the environment and society. It leads to over-consumption of food and beverages, which can cause obesity and overweight. These two factors make people unhealthy and contribute to societal issues such as aging and disease.

Overconsumption can result in obesity, which is a social and cultural problem. People who are overweight or obese spend nearly twice as much on medical care than those who are not obese.

Moreover, the overconsumption of goods can be harmful to the environment. In addition, to its impact on individuals’ self-conception and mental health. Overproduction and subsequent overconsumption drive massive amounts of waste, emissions and pollution.

massive amount of waste under bridge
Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash

And all this stuff gives rise to energy consumption. As more people demand consumer goods, the production of goods also increases, causing more air pollution and deforestation.  Increased demand for goods and services increases emissions of pollutants and land use, leading to accelerated climate change.

Therefore, we need to be aware of the effects of consumerism to ensure that we are living greener life. While consumerism has improved our standards of living, it has also increased the number of available products.

It has allowed us to purchase a variety of consumer goods. The birth of capitalism led to mass production. This allowed businesses to continually create goods and services, despite environmental concerns.

It is not possible to change this fact, since there are so many variables. If we are concerned about the environment, we should focus on sustainable solutions. Then we can reduce our consumption and avert global warming.

Future of consumerism

Consumerism stimulates economic growth. The demand for goods and services forces businesses to produce more, creating a never-ending cycle of buying. Increasing production levels create more jobs and better wages in local communities.

More money means more spending, which means more food, a home and job security. It’s a win-win situation. Hence, the future of consumerism depends on people’s attitudes. Companies are unsustainable, consumers are wasting more resources than they can use and we’re destroying our planet.

If you have been feeling drained by the consumerist culture, you may be wondering how to solve consumerism. If you are spending more money than you earn and can’t seem to find enough space to keep your purchases, you’re probably suffering from consumerism.

But the good news is that we can make a difference by making the system more sustainable. We can start by changing our mindsets toward the way we consume. In addition to changing our consumption habits, we can also make our products more sustainable. Developing ethical consumerism.

The future of consumerism is becoming more transparent about its values. A report reveals that 90% of Americans would be loyal to a company that used fair labor and produced sustainable products. There are many community-minded startups such as The Giving Keys, which use consumerism to solve social problems.

As a consumer, you can feel good about your choices, especially if they help others. Ultimately, we can make our world a better place through ethical consumerism.

The future of consumerism requires value transparency. Changing our behaviors is necessary to save our planet. And consumers can be made happier by making their choices more transparent. With more people spending more money than ever, we must make sure that we are getting the best value for our money.

But everything should be done ethically. We should make our purchases based on ethical principles. A better society means we should do our part. The future of consumerism starts with the way we spend our money.

New models of consumerism are being introduced around the sharing concept. The idea is to share and lease things. By sharing, we can save money. In the meantime, it is critical to remember that the future of consumerism is about the environment. Its impact is not limited to the economy. In fact, it has far-reaching consequences on the environment.

Fortunately, there are many ways to avoid this and live a more balanced lifestyle. If you want to live a more healthy and fulfilling life, you need to start by changing your habits.

The first step in solving consumerism is changing your behavior. Try to reduce the amount of consumption that you do. Slowing down the purchasing process, and deleting applications.

If you are an individual who loves to buy things that you don’t need, consider making them yourself. Using your creativity and making your products is a great way to reduce your consumption. You can also donate items to charities and nonprofit organizations. You can even buy used goods to support local businesses.

Increasingly, people are concerned about the environment and the impact of their consumption. As a result, they try to make the most of the resources and minimize the impact on the environment.

The result is an increasingly environmentally-friendly society but this is not the only way to reduce consumption. By using sustainable products and practices, we can reduce the environmental impact of our daily lives. Developing an environmentally friendly economy is the key to a healthy planet.