Ending Consumerism

We must stop worshiping at the altar of consumerism and greed

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The way that we, most of us, today are living is totally unsustainable. It is a way of life driven by advertising-generated wants that are mistaken, for we are being conditioned in such a way, as needs.

Even our very governments urge us to consume more and more and at the onset of the recent recession we were “encouraged” to spend, spend, spend, in order to rekindle the faltering economy.

In fact, the powers-that-be even regarded people who wanted to save and live more frugally as bad as terrorists.

Frugal living and low impact living should not be equated to terrorism. Nay, it would become and be the norm of living. We are doomed otherwise and I am serious here.

We must reduce our impact on the resources on the Planet, on the gifts of Mother Earth, for many of those that we use at such a high rate are finite and others are overexploited and not given time to recuperate and recover, such as, for instacne the oceans' fish stocks.

The majority of us in the developed countries of the world are exploiting Nature's gifts and not just that; we also exploit – directly or indirectly – the poor in the developing world, as they are exploited to produce cheap goods to feed our consumer greed, and this is “even” the case in China.

Goods are produced by those poor laborers, who in China also may include prisoners, who are forced to “slave” for companies producing good for export, more often than not under conditions that are against all health and safety rules in the developed world.

No wonder, therefore, that China can produce goods cheaply and this cheap production exploits environment and people alike.

The costs to both are not factored in to the prices charged and neither do consumers have much choice.

Ninety percent, if not even more, of all of our computers, and probably ninety-nine percent of all computer components are made in China, for instance. So you and I have no choice and this must change.

The problem with “cheap” goods, including computers, and not all are “cheap”, from China is also that obsolescence of about two years maximum seems to get factored in only, and this not just, as in computers, as obsolescence cause by Microsoft changing operating system and older PCs hence become “out of date”. Little of this happens as to obsolescence through operating system with all versions of the Linux operating system.

Obsolescence is also factored into the product hardware so that, in a time not so far away, the user will have to buy a new one.

This is, also, not just thus with computers but with almost everything out there and not only electronic equipment.

When I was a child things were very much different and goods were still produced to last somewhat and we could, I am sure, get back to such kind of production.

While this would – oh gosh – make things somewhat more expensive they would – and I guess we just could not have that – pay for themselves though by not breaking down and, if we made goods in such a manner again that they could also be repaired – of what a horrible thought and yes, yet another dangerous “r” word – it would be better still.

Far too few things, nowadays, can be repaired and it is the same for toaster as for boots and shoes.

Waste is being factored in for the very start in almost everything but does this really have to be thus?

Consumerism, obviously, as we all know, I am sure, is not just fueled by the fact that things do no longer last. As I have said already, advertising induced wants perceived by people as needs is equally to blame too.

Do people really “need” a new cell phone every six months or so just because a new one has come out with more bells and whistles attached too it? I seriusly doubt that that is a need.

To me a cell phone, for instance, is that... a mobile telephonic communication device and while the possibility of SMS is nice and they all, nowadays have that, I do not need to, and do I want to be able to, read my emails on the move. I rather deal when them later.

And the same is true for so many other products where people think, because advertising tells them so, that they need a new version.

The old adage of the Americans was a good one that said “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” and that should also apply to things in the setting of “if it ain't broke and it works then you don't need a new one”.

While I may want a new one simply because the new one has this or that additional feature that I might like to have it certainly is not a need. And it is this misconception of needs and wants that is fueling the consumerism that is harming Mother Earth and other people.

Time for a rethink...

© 2010