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The modern world consists of various products which are a necessity for people living in developed as well as developing countries. These include products such as smartphones, laptops, high-end computers and tablets. Household equipment such as televisions, refrigerators, ovens are also products that are almost unthinkable to live without.
Every day, we are seeing advancement in the technological products and in all the products we are using which brings us to question. Is the next big innovative product really necessary for us? Will buying that product make our life more efficient and comforting for us or not?
The mentality of buying or acquiring a product just for the sake of it giving us more luxury or showing off rather than it being a need or necessity for us is what’s called Consumerism and it has significantly shadowed over our planet.
Another term I’d like to discuss in relation to Consumerism is Obsolescence which is getting rid of products which are in excellent working order just to obtain the newer models of similar devices. Obsolescence has also led to increased landfills and further pressure on recycling facilities. Obsolescence obviously leads to further Consumerism.
Consumerism has created competitions among people, societies, classes and nations; as to those which acquire the most wealth, products or lands are the most powerful among others. This has led to a lot of negative effects on the planet.
The vast spread of consumerism is not just creating long term hatred and negativity among people but it is harming the planet at an alarming rate. What is worse is that while all of this is happening, no one is paying great attention to it and in this way the resources of our planet are slowly reducing in stock with no signs of the resources replenishing.
This issue is more severe in developed countries such as the United States or the wealthier countries of our planet. There are a number of negative effects of consumerism which we will be highlighting ahead.
Effects of Consumerism on Society
The gap in wealth between the rich and the poor is getter bigger and bigger due to the massive rise in consumerism. The wealthiest of nations and the people living in these nations stockpile the most resources and the poor and lower class members of those nations are left with limited resources. What is sad is that even though the wealthy people of society have a lot of resources; they do not use it sufficiently nor do they allow others who are more in need of it to use those resources.
These resources can be used to help feed the poor or provide basic level of education to children who are unable to afford it or pay off student loans of students who are in severe debt. Instead, they are spent on luxuries of life such as Ice-cream. Recently, it has been estimated that Europeans spend about 11 Billion dollars per year on just Ice-cream whereas the Narcotics industry makes about 400 Billion dollars a year through drug trafficking providing people with narcotics such as methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, marijuana and ecstasy.
This gap of wealthy and social differences creates hatred and jealousy among people of the same nation. This eventually leads to an increase in crime rates and deaths with the only motive being to acquire the same wealth as those higher up in the social chain.
The Effects of Consumerism on People
There is a close relationship between the increase in modern consumerism and the amount of people being clinically diagnosed as obese. The more wealth the people acquire, the more the opportunity they have to eat excessive food. Unfortunately, people opting for food with high amount of fats and saturated oil leads to the development of obesity among them.
Obesity is a very serious disease as it increases the amount of body fat in the body leading to various life-threating conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, Heart attack, angina and stroke.
The treatment of obese patients is usually life-long and expensive, requiring a lot of medication and counseling such as the commencement of cardio workouts and the alteration of diet. As discussed, the conditions caused by obesity may be persistent lifelong and may require medications for the rest of the life to manage such conditions.
The Effects of Consumerism on the Environment
Apart from social, economic, political and medical related issues with consumerism; pollution is a major ever-growing concern when it comes to consumerism.
It is very simple, people demand goods and those goods are produced using the planets resources which are being depleted unsustainably to fulfill our needs. This has led to massive polluting effects on the environment; deforestation of large forests to build roads and make way for people to inhabit those areas, desertification of land due to excessive utilization of potential agricultural land (Intensive Farming), eventually increasing the rate of the catastrophe known as climate change. Animals have lost habitats and have become in close contact with humans now more than ever. This is leading to the reduction in the number of animals and making them endangered.
Our non-renewable resources are slowly being depleted. The water reserves of our planet are being utilized at their maximum capacity and soon they may all become dried up or the water may no longer be pure enough to be used. The water of our planet is becoming a constant sufferer of pollution which is not just affecting us but the diverse marine life which is living in those water bodies. This has led to the development of new species of marine life which have developmental defects due to the polluted water they were living in; some of the species have now become endangered whilst some have just undergone extinction.
How can we reduce the Negative effects of Consumerism?
It is very obvious that we cannot go on this way. We need to remove consumerism out of our life (or at least reduce it) and adapt a healthier lifestyle which is more beneficial for us and our planet. We should start giving more to the people that are more in need of necessities of life and therefore prolong their development and status in life along with ours. We need to use our planets resources more carefully and efficiently. We should also start recycling more and more so that our resources and give them the chance to replenish. Habitats and the organisms living in those habitats should be protected thereby allowing the species in the ecosystem to nurture and reproduce.