Economists usually state that consumerism is good. But is it? . . .
Recently I read ‘The 100 Thing Challenge’ which was basically about a guy who tried to live with only 100 things, and the subject of consumerism got me thinking and taking a close look at my own habits.
Just how much stuff do we really need? I already have more books than I can possibly read in a lifetime and more stuff that I don’t use, than the stuff that I do use. I actually started to try to lessen the amount of things I have collected around 2 years ago, but I’m still struggling to reduce the amount of stuff that I have.
I’ve heard that in America people are now renting storage compartments to store their extra stuff in. We are bombarded with advertisements and have peer pressure at whatever age to go out and update to the latest gadget or the latest car model. I once read a quote saying that:
We buy stuff we don’t really need, to impress people we don’t really like.
I’ve forgotten where I read that quote but it is very true when it comes to most people’s desire to get a designer handbag, the next phone model up or a new number plate on a brand-spanking new car.
Most economists say that consumerism is good for the economy obviously, but what if everyone just bought what they needed and didn’t upgrade to the latest phone model or car until they really needed to? Well, there would be less demand for products and there would be less of a need for people to work such long hours. We would have less of a wage, but then again we wouldn’t be buying loads of stuff and being fed advertisements every minute. Our lives wouldn’t be such a manic rush too.
One thing I’m trying to do is to only buy things to replace things that need replacing now. I will buy quality goods instead of many normal quality things. As an example, I now have Doc Martins to replace my old shoes, but instead of having loads of shoes I will only have 1 or 2 pairs of quality Doc Martin shoes, which will last a long time. The money that I save from not buying so many things I can now inject into a few quality goods.
That’s not to say that I won’t be just buying brand name goods, as I find that a lot of brand name goods are overhyped and the money that you spend goes on their advertisement costs. No, what I’m talking about is when you pick up a product and really feel and know that it’s a quality product.
For instance, I find that motorbike shops have excellent quality clothing, as the clothing is usually designed to withstand ripping up to a point in a motorbike accident.
If there wasn’t consumerism fever, set on fire by constant bombardments of advertisements, companies would be trying to specialise in quality rather than quantity. Western culture in particular almost worships consumerism, with people going out shopping as a ‘therapy’. People buy something to make themselves feel happier, then realise that the advertisers’ claims of the product changing their life are not true, so their mood goes down, then they have to go back out and buy something else to find false happiness.
Parents often bribe their children to study hard with ‘stuff’ and even bargain for good behaviour if it means that the children get more ‘stuff’.
In some households gadgets have taken over people’s lives.
So, I for one am going to ignore all the hype that ‘consumerism is good’ and try and duck out of the madness as much as I can by buying less goods and looking for quality instead of quantity. It’s impossible to completely avoid consumerism, but if you are aware of its influence you can at least react in a way that suits you and not advertisers or economists.