The Root of Consumerism

Before we get started on reducing our daily consumption, it is important to understand where it comes from.

Credit: Unknown - scan by Norbert Kaiser
Credit: Unknown – scan by Norbert Kaiser

The Industrial Revolution (1760 – 1840) was when humanity began the transition into mass production and consumption. This was mainly because the technological advancements at the time enabled faster and more efficient methods of production. This period of time saw rapid economic growth, improved living standards and drastic changes to everyday lifestyles of millions and millions of people.

From this consumption only grew. People made more money, goods and services could be produced much cheaper due to the invention of the Ford Assembly Line. Gradually aspects of modern life began to emerge – credit cards, department stores, advertising and this continual demand for more, more and more.

When does this end? Our first world lives are privileged and yet we still crave more. The economic problem states there are “limited resources to satisfy unlimited wants and needs of humanity”. At what cost on the environment, on our societal values will consumerism take?

Credit: David Evers from Flickr
Credit: David Evers from Flickr

Fast forward to contemporary society. Brand names, marketing, advertising and social media are driving factors in consumerism. We see ambient advertising, native advertising, sponsorships and public relations stunts all for the purpose of sheer consumerism. Brands like Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, YSL and more have become associated with an idea of happiness, success and sophistication. The narrative of a working hard, becoming successful and purchasing their first Ferrari is popularised throughout media. A self made man/woman, this ideal has also been reinforced in countless canonical works, such as The Great Gatsby.

So how can you swim against the tide? How can one person make any difference in a society where capitalism, consumerism and money rules? When I first considered the idea of consumerism I felt powerless as an individual to make any real change. Slowly as I read more articles and educated myself a bit more on the topic, I was able to slowly start conversations about how we deal with consumerism in our everyday lives. This is exactly what I am doing now. And you can start too.

The solution is not to cut out all spending immediately. It’s to slowly realise that material goods are not the answer to our continual search for happiness. To look at ethical and more sustainable brands and methods of consumption that do less to damage Mother Nature. Follow this blog on WordPress, Facebook or Twitter for more insights into consumerism and feel free to comment down below your thoughts and experiences.

Up next week: A feature on fast fashion and how it can be damaging for society and the environment.




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