It has been calculated that if all people on earth consumed the same amount as the average US citizen, then four such planets would be needed to sustain us. The story gets worse even in wealthier countries, where it is estimated that the earth should be supported by 5,4 the same planets if we all lived by the same standard as the United Arab Emirates. Depressing and at the same time motivating to action is the fact that we still have one planet.
What exactly is consumerism? This is a kind of pernicious dependence, hypertrophy of material needs. Society has a growing opportunity to achieve superiority through consumption. Consumption becomes not just a part, but the purpose and meaning of life. In the modern world, ostentatious consumption has reached unprecedented heights. Take a look at Instagram: almost every post you are offered to buy that cardigan, dry massage brush, accessory, and so on and so forth. They tell you that you need it, but are you sure that you really need it?
So, how does modern consumerism affect the quality of life on our planet?
The Impact of Consumerism on Society: Global Inequality
The huge increase in resource consumption in richer countries has already led to a huge gap between rich and poor people. As the saying goes, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” In 2005, 59% of the world’s resources were consumed by the richest 10% of the population. And the poorest 10% consumed only 0,5% of the world’s resources.
Based on this, we can look at trends in spending and understand how this money and resources could be better used. It has been estimated that only US$6 billion can provide basic education to people all over the world. Another $22 billion will provide every person on the planet with access to clean water, basic health care and adequate nutrition.
Now, if we look at some areas of spending, we can see that our society is in serious trouble. Every year, Europeans spend $11 billion on ice cream. Yes, imagine ice cream! That’s almost enough to raise every child on the planet twice.
About $50 billion is spent on cigarettes in Europe alone, and about $400 billion is spent on drugs worldwide. If we could reduce our consumption levels to even a fraction of what they are now, then we could make a dramatic difference in the lives of the poor and needy around the world.
The impact of consumerism on people: obesity and lack of spiritual development
Research shows a strong link between the rise of modern consumerist culture and the alarming rates of obesity we are seeing around the world. However, this is not surprising, since consumerism means exactly this – to use as much as possible, and not as much as we need. This causes a domino effect in society. Oversupply leads to obesity, which in turn leads to further cultural and social problems.
Medical services are increasing more and more as the world’s obesity rates rise. For example, in the United States, per capita medical costs are about $2500 more for obese people than for healthy weight people.
In addition to weight and health problems, a person who is fed up with commodities such as food, drinks, things, ceases to really develop spiritually. It literally stands still, slowing down not only its development, but the development of the whole society.
The impact of consumption on the environment: pollution and resource depletion
Besides the obvious social and economic problems, consumerism is destroying our environment. As the demand for goods increases, the need to produce those goods increases. This results in increased pollutant emissions, increased land use and deforestation, and accelerated climate change.
We are experiencing devastating effects on our water supply as more and more water storage becomes depleted or used for intensive farming procedures.
Waste disposal is becoming a problem all over the world, and our oceans are slowly but surely becoming a giant mine for waste disposal. And for a moment, the depths of the oceans have been studied by only 2-5%, and scientists joke that this is even less than the far side of the moon. It is estimated that more than half of the plastic produced is single-use plastic, which means that after use it ends up either in landfill or in the environment. And plastic, as we know, takes over 100 years to decompose. According to scientists, up to 12 million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, forming giant floating garbage dumps around the world.
Что мы можем сделать?
Obviously, each of us needs to reduce consumption and change our current lifestyle, otherwise the planet as we know it will cease to exist. We are currently consuming resources at a tremendous rate, which is causing massive environmental destruction and social problems around the world.
Recently, the United Nations released a report saying that humanity has only 12 years to fight climate change, which is caused by human pollution.
You might think that one person cannot save the entire planet. However, if every person thinks this way, we will not only not get off the ground, but will aggravate the situation. One person can change the world by becoming an example for thousands of people.
Make changes in your life today by reducing your materialistic possessions. Media resources allow you to delve into information about the recycling of waste, which is already used even in the production of fashionable and modern clothes. Raise awareness of this issue among your friends and acquaintances so that more people take action.