Consumerism is a process that people engage in by buying unnecessary and wasteful products. Many people agree with the argument that this system is fueled by businesses using ads and commercials that make people feel like they need to buy products they don't need. People may think that they don’t pay attention to ads or commercials, for example, anyone can walk away from the TV when it goes to a commercial. However, there are some many forms of advertising that we encounter on a daily basis and we don't even realize how much impact it has on us.
Other forms of advertising include radio commercials, billboards, labels, coupons, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. It only takes one person to look at one of these advertisement and buy the item, which can later cause peer pressure on everyone else to purchase the same item. Buying and consuming is an unacceptable system that affects our everyday lifestyle and the environment in which we live in. The big corporate businesses have a negative impact on human lifestyles. We have a government that makes laws to protect us, but lately the corporate businesses have more control over the economy.
In fact, in Leonard’s video, it currently states that corporate businesses have a 51% ownership of the economy compared to the government's 49%. In other words, our economy falls into the hands of what the business wants. Therefore businesses are influencing people to buy products they don’t really need, which can only benefit the businesses. For example, the car dealerships spend so much on advertising and can make people feel that they need to purchase three cars when there are only two drivers in the family. According to Leonard, the houses we are buying are two times as big in size as what they were in 1970s.
She also found that “In the United States, people spend 3–4 times as many hours shopping as our counterparts in Europe do. ” All of these examples prove that Americans are feeling compelled to spend their money, which can be accounted for by businesses controlling our economy. This is bad for the people because all of this money spent on useless shopping, excessive car and home purchases could be used for more important things such as education. On another note, people may not realize the problem with consumerism. If a person were to take back and look at the big picture of buying and consuming roducts, they would understand the negative effect it has on a person's lifestyle. We are stuck in a circular system of buying and consuming. An average person goes to work, comes home and watches TV that is full of advertising that persuades us to buy the latest, new products that we don't need. This continues in one big circle; we work hard to afford the newest product, we buy the product, businesses come out with an upgrade for the orignial product, and then we feel like we need the upgraded verision which causes us to start back at step one.
Another problem we face is that with all this shopping we forget to be grateful for what we have, and we also lose valuable time that could be spent on other activities. When people go camping there nothing out in the woods and most people would feel very peaceful and happy. Diane Cameron can agree. Cameron says back in the day she was only making $13,000 a year, she rented her house, she drove a used 1971 VW Beetle and she remembers that she was very happy. Time went by and she bought her own house and filled her closet with clothes and realized that she had more clothes than she needed.
Now that she is older she reflects back and states, “This is why many of us recall feeling better when we were younger. We felt as if we had enough because we hadn't yet begun to compare ourselves with others. We didn't expect that we should have a lot more. It's our expectations that trip us up. We substitute one material desire for another, convinced each time that the next whatever will make us happy. And we then seek out that happiness through spending money. " All this consuming leads up to more and more trash each year.
This kind of behavior is bad for our country in the long run because it fills up the landfills and negative effects our environment. According to Taylor and Tilford, “ the average U. S. person now consumes twice as much as they did 50 years ago. ” We are buying so much more every day and about 99% of the things we buy are thrown away within 6 months, according to Leonard. Although some products like cars may not go to waste. For example, my car is 18 years old and our family has been able to keep it running with needed repairs. This is what the businesses wants us to do, spend more money on the items we already bought.
Businesses have found a way to make a product that will need to be repaired in a short time or they design it to be junked which is called planned obsolescence. If products are designed to fall apart, it forces people to buy more products to replace the broken ones. Another aspect to consider is that producing the products is taking a toll on the destruction of our natural world. All the products need resources and materials. Businesses are eating away at our natural resources to clear lands to build manufacturing plants and they release toxic wastes during production into our air and drinking water.
Leonard said, “In the U. S. , we have less than 4% of our original forests left. ” Leonard and the EPA’s TRI Program also found that, “In the U. S. , the industries admit to releasing over 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals a year. ” This is a horrifying to know that about 40% of our drinking water is contaminated. While it is impossible to fully prevent pollution, the increased consumerism plays role in the increase of these power plants accounting for this pollution.
On top of the pollution from manufacturing companies, people as consumers are adding to the pollution by throwing away more and more trash each year. Leonard found out that the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that, “Each person in the United States makes 4 1/2 pounds of garbage a day. ” All of this trash takes up several acres of landfill, which pollutes our nature world. Many people do not realize that buying, consuming, and throwing away products can hurt our environment, but these statistics prove otherwise.
In conclusion, we need to alert consumers that when they shop they should choose the products that are most essential for a simpler lifestyle. Buying and owning frivolous material goods does not contribute to happiness. Consumers need to understand that their increasing consuming habits affects our lifestyle, our happiness with our lifestyle, and our environment. If people were to stop being persuaded by business advertising, they would realize that less is more. People wouldn't be so caught up with buying the next big thing, and everyone would be happy with the things that they have.