I have just finished watching the documentary series Broken on Netflix , while the series investigates the neglect and deceit in producing and marketing some popular consumer items, the larger message I took from it, was that we as a society are experiencing some very nasty side effects of consumerism and it got me thinking about all the problems an increased consumeristic society is causing.
Consumerism is defined as a social and economic order that encourages an acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. If we look around us there is an increased abundance of stuff, mostly mass produced and mostly to a lesser quality than it used to be, which allows for cheaper prices. Marketing has increased and we are bombarded with adverts telling us what to buy and consume next, there is an increase in single use items and convenience. Consumer debt has risen significantly over the years as well as online shopping and so we can spend our hard earned money from our living rooms, in our pyjamas.
In my experience, consuming more and more products rarely makes us happy, but it leads to a number of nasty side effects including:
Increased consumer debt - People are drowning in credit card debt and limits are increased annually, allowing us to spend more than we have.
Cluttered homes and lives- The more we purchase, the more cluttered our homes become. Homes are filled to the brim with stuff we dont actually need or use, but clever marketing convinces us we need more. All this stuff not only clutters our physical space but it robs us of our time and well being. All that stuff now needs to be cleaned, organised and maintained and studies indicate that clutter can increase levels of cortisone, leading to higher levels of stress and anxiety.
Negatively impacting the environment- the Broken series investigated the impact of plastic on the environment and the truth about recycling and it really is quite frightening the impact all this plastic is having on the environment and our health. The current recycling model isn't doing enough to combat this problem and a large portion of what we produce actually cant not be recycled. The cheaper items being produced also dont last like they used to and many end up in landfills after a short amount of time.
Negatively impacting our health and well being- Stress about money, feelings of keeping up with the Jones', as well as the impact of clutter in our homes it making us stressed, anxious and ill. The pollution and micro plastics we are consuming is impacting our overall health.
While I am not suggesting we stop consuming all together ( of course I dont want to sound like the Grinch at Christmas), I am suggesting ,that for our own well being, we start to become a little more mindful about our consuming and what we spend our money on.
In the end we dictate what society will look like, when we create demand, industries respond by producing more.