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Is Consumerism a good or bad thing?

rivoltaleandro 4 / 2  
Oct 29, 2008   #1
Do you think consumerism is a good or bad thing? Given your response, how do you respond to the "buy nothing day" poster? Do you agree with it? what would be the ramifications of buying nothing be? Who would be affected?

In the consumer society, "I am what I have" is the operative definition of self. In today's society consumerism is often portrayed to be a negative aspect of people's lives and purchasing behaviors, which inevitably leads to materialism. But, if looked at in a positive light, consumerism have certain positive characteristics.

Consumerism has emerged as part of a historical process that has created mass markets, industrialization, and cultural attitudes that ensure that rising incomes are used to purchase an ever-growing output. Consumerism rests on the assumption that human desires are infinitely expandable; if there are an infinite number of ways to be dissatisfied; there are boundless opportunities to create new products to meet those desires. Every day companies compete by inventing a new product to satisfy consumer's need. Some of these things are very useful and make some people wonder how they would live without them. Many of these products don't have much impact on society and fade out throughout the years.

Although it has been said that money is the root of all evil, many people actually believe that they would be happier if they were wealthier. People often want more than they have now, more money, a better car, a bigger house, more shoes and cloths. They will never be satisfied, because every day there is new ads for new cars, clothes and electronics. Nowadays, big companies and corporations try to make people buy their products by using more and more advertising techniques. TV commercials, posters on the walls, newspaper ads and a variety of different flyers are just some examples of the massive propaganda used by businesses. Not only have advertisers learned to identify specific products that appeal to men and women, but they have also found that the "want" of the consumer can be turned into a "need" for the advertised product. Many of the beauty product companies advertise their products as a "need" which ultimately appeals to a vast majority of women.

There are many ways that consumerism can effect the environment. Consumerism can cause air and water pollution, land contamination, and forest degradation. Consumption itself, plus the production and waste of products used in consumption is related to pollution. Industrial waste (especially when just dumped into the rivers and oceans), waste from the tourist industry (including cruise liners, air travel, etc.), waste from industrial agriculture, and automobile emissions are examples of air and water pollutions caused by consumerism. Tobacco production, for example, can lead to soil degradation and land contamination.

Worried about the negatives effects on environment by consumerism, Ted Dave, a Canadian artist, founded the "Buy Nothing Day", which is an informal day of protest against consumerism. The "Buy Nothing Day" is a good way to show people how addicted to shopping they are, and it is a good way to make people think how consumption is destroying the planet. I personally do not think that the "Buy Nothing Day" would affect the country's economy, because this protest lasts only 24 hours and what people do not buy that day will be bought at a later date.

Consumerism can actually have some positive effects on society. The economy depends on people buying stuff. If people only bought the absolute necessities, most of the country would be unemployed and unable to make enough money to buy those absolute necessities. The growth of demand for consumer goods also encourages investors to put their money into expanded production so consumption growth also stimulates economic growth.

Consumerism increases consumption, more consumption requires more production, more production means more jobs and more income in society, and more income means more consumption. This is the cycle which if managed properly can bring growth and prosperity to society. Consumerism is essential to our economy, but authorities should imply rules and laws to make sure that consumerism does not destroy our planet.

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