Consumerism is the human mentality that allows people to buy and purchase goods in order to keep the economy running (Apecsadmin). In a consumerist world, there are more advertisements and competitive pricing aimed at making people buy more goods and creating inexistent demand. The current pace of resource use is troubling. “”Approximately 59 percent of the world’s goods are used by 10% of the population”” (Greentumble Editorial Team). This society has its advantages and disadvantages. It persuades the society that buying and receiving materials is a means of pleasure rather than fulfillment of needs. The members can easily judge their colleagues on their elements such as fashion and automotive. As a result, there is increased additional purchase by those who have which in turn increases pressure on the existing natural resources. The consumerism behavior is more rampant in the US than the United Arab Emirates. Research has shown that if everyone’s consumption scale were equivalent to that of an average American, we would require four planets to sustain our lifestyle (Greentumble Editorial Team). As per this research, the consumerism causes more cultural harms than benefits (Shah).
Consumerism destroys the environment in the long run. The human population has insatiable cravings for resources which makes increases the pressure on the natural and human-made resources. Whether the required resources are natural or human-made, there is a direct or indirect impact on the world resources. In case of food products, they are mostly derived from farms and where they are manufactured; there is environmental degradation that results from disposal of industrial waste. There is increased cultivation of land to satisfy the demands, and in the process, sustainable farming methods are not practiced since the aim of the farmers is to make a profit. Farming is accompanied by expansion and land clearance which is achieved via deforestation therefor causing climate changes. Other farming practices like livestock and poultry farming have also been associated with environmental degradation which also has adverse cultural effects (Shah).
Since some plants are more demanded than others, those whose demand is high are cultivated at the expense of others leading to loss of plants diversity. It also leads to the cultivation of non-food crops such as sisal and flowers which are in demand and therefore hunger is the long run outcome. Another example is where these animals consume a lot of water and also cause pollution to the water sources. Most interestingly are the findings that some of these animals are fed with more grains while some poor persons are starving in some part of the world. The unfortunate lacks any otherwise than to believe that money brings happiness making them willing to do anything to acquire commercial properties. There are communal disintegration and loss of unity where some animals are valued by their owners, more than fellow human beings (Shah).
The culture is also one of the leading causes of poverty. The gap between the rich and the poor is widening as time goes by. The population now perceives and judges their colleagues on their material possession which is very evident from the dressing to gadgets possession. There is this mindset that exists to those who ‘have’ that the poor can use the resources to be rich too. However, this is not applicable as there are resources inequalities between different regions and individuals. The widening gap between the rich and poor is so broad that when the rich are disposing of the leftovers, some have nothing to eat. A saddening case is where some spend their cash on relatively useless products such as ice cream while others cannot afford a basic lunch. However, this is perceived to be normal particularly in the US (Shah).
Cultural effects are also a function of health issues, joblessness, and rural-urban migration. Consumerism causes health problem to the poor due to malnutrition and to the rich due to overconsumption. As a result, they have high chances of contracting lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases. The rate of joblessness may increase due to reduced compensation rates and increased workloads as the poor compete for these opportunities to make their ends meet.
There is also increased rural-urban migration as most people move to the urban places to try their luck. This causes labor imbalance in the rural areas where there are productive farms as most people travel to the metropolitan area. Food shortage is the outcome and as the law of supply and demand indicates, food prices rise as a multiplier effect of consumerism (Shah). To neutralize this effect, the people have to have a means of buying and acquiring these foods for their survival. The rich got some high purchasing powers and may displace the poor from their native land. The likely outcome is that the rich may not use the property in a productive manner such as food production but instead build an expensive home causing food shortage. On the side of the minority, they will be forced to migrate to other unfavorable places such as near wildlife increasing the cases of human-wildlife conflict (Shah).
Environmental degradation and cultural effects are also caused by mineral and fuel excavation. Consumerism creates increased demand for automotive and electronics. With the emergence of industrious countries such as China, there is increased excavation to meet the demand for metals. Research has indicated that the current generation has broken the past consumption. Sustainability calls for the use of resources without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It is however clear that with the current consumption rates, the next generations’ abilities to meet their future needs are compromised by the consumerism and capitalist culture. One of the fueling factors of this culture is that the developed countries are the ones advocating for sustainability and minimal use of resources. These efforts are seen as neocolonialism as these developed nations already used funds to establish their states, but they want to regulate other states. Worse still is the case of European countries who amassed resources from other countries to attain their status (Shah).
Consumerism culture has also led to exporting pollution from the developed states to the developing countries. Excessive consumption has increased the pollution rates from industrial wastes. Regulations are in place to regulate pollution where the firms are required to develop more efficient ways of processing their products when their emission exceeds an absolute limit. Instead of improving their systems, some companies are opting to move some of their manufacturing branches to the developing countries where there are fewer regulations and lower pollution impacts. Due to this, the developing countries manage to maintain a serene environment at the expense of weaker states in the name of foreign investment. The culture also promotes some inhumane activities such as exporting potentially dangerous materials to be recycled in the more impoverished nations such as computer monitors. These events are hazardous to the local community and may lead to health problems. However, these countries of origin do not care about these as they are not concerned by the needs of others (Shah).
Consumerism has also triggered social injustices revolving around poverty, land control and ownership. The ideology has increased the desire for wealth which causes some jealous. Individuals want to be productive while others are poor so that they can control them. They are willing to make money even via unethical means. For instance, instead of preventing a disease outbreak, some want it to occur so that they can supply medicine to the affected region and make money in their private healthcare facilities. In all these cases the developed nations’ population is to blame (Shah).
The emergence of the purchase driven economy has also presented a risk to the consumers. The marketer already knows that the consumers are acquisition driven and therefore they want to come up with affordable products. In the process, they may compromise quality for example in the health sector and the electronics. The low-quality electronics may cause health problems or disasters such as fire while poor quality health services may cause a drug-resistant form of diseases or deaths (Logan). This occurs where the population perceives money as the source of happiness while this is not the case always. Money is good but may not buy sleep, good health among other valuables (Apecsadmin). Poor working environment and compensation scale may arise as company owners attempt to lower the prices of the products to attract a bigger market. “The culture undermines the social cohesion due to internalization of highly destructive values of replacing everything with money” (Logan).
The prevailing trend with this ideology is based on human psychology and sociology studies. Human beings are insatiable in their desires, and therefore it is believed that demand will exist in the presence of supply. “Consumers were acting unwisely that consumer behavior perhaps did not solve to advance their standards of living or more general goals was generally dismissed as personalising” (Goodwin, Nelson and Ackerman 13)The extreme desire of acquiring properties will cause the consumers to go against some doctrines such as that that requires people to avoid coveting in the Christianity religion. Covetousness a may encourage some criminal activities such as robbery and interfere with the existing cultures. As a result, the moral standards are eroded and decay and turmoil of families, neighborhoods and the society (Teshome).
With all the cons mentioned above of consumerism, it also has some few pros. When correctly implemented, it may cause the consumers to purchase more, and this is an advantage to businesses. It may reduce the costs of living due to the drop in commodity prices in the market. The increased demand will also call for more workforce, and this may lead to increased employment opportunities. For these pros to be realized, consumerism has to be managed as contrary may happen for example increase of workloads instead of employing more personnel (Apecsadmin).
In my opinion, consumerism is not a good idea as its cons exceeds its cons. It leads to perceiving money as the source of happiness. It has contributed to the widening gap between the rich and the poor. There is significant degradation of environment due to inappropriate consumption of use of resources. It has caused rural-urban migration as people move to try their luck. Researchers have indicated that our consumption exceeds the historical records and should we continue in the same way, we’ll compromise the ability of the future generations to meet their own need. The ideology has also increased the health issues from malnutrition and over-consumption. It also causes unfair competition where the rich continue to rich while the poor continue to be poor. The own possession money among other resources make the owners feel a kind of superiority and despises the less fortunate. The ideology causes corruption of morals as the desire for wealth exceeds and the weak attempt to look for alternative means of acquiring wealth. There is resources inequality between the developed and the developing countries. The developed nations take advantage of their position to transfer their waste to the developing countries.
Apecsadmin. “6 Pros and Cons of Consumerism.” (2016).
Goodwin, Neva, et al. “Consumption and the Consumer Society.” (2008).
Logan, T. Collins. “What are the advantages and disadvantages of consumerism?” (2016).
Shah, Anup. “Effects of Consumerism.” Glabal Issues (2005). 28 November 2017.
Greentumble Editorial Team. “The Negative Effects of Consumerism.” (2016).
Teshome, Mengisteab. “Culture of Consumerism Effects and Society.” (2017).