The term “consumerism” refers to the overuse of material possessions. This trend has many negative effects, including increasing debt levels and the psychological effects associated with trying to keep up with the Joneses. In fact, many people find that this lifestyle is exhausting, so it is a good idea to stop and consider the consequences before you begin living a consumerist lifestyle. But first, let’s define what consumerism is.
To understand what a consumerist lifestyle is, it’s helpful to look at the American way of life. This nation has long been the source of the “good life” concept that centers on the acquisition and consumption of material goods. In the process, this lifestyle is highly resistant to alternatives to this consumerist culture. Unprecedented investments in packaging, advertising, and branding further support the consumer culture. Consumers are not necessarily living a more fulfilling life.
As a result, the consumerist lifestyle creates an ever-increasing amount of stuff. Much of this stuff is unneeded, and it only serves to reinforce the consumerist economic infrastructure. This kind of lifestyle also hinders political awareness and self-development. Consumerism has rendered many activities that should have been central to human pleasures – leisure, civic engagement, education, and reading – into marginalized, unimportant pursuits.
Consumption also has negative effects on the environment. In the past, consumerism developed in parallel with the Industrial Revolution in Europe, and then intensified in North America. When society began to shift away from small home-based production, it developed a factory system. This system of production resulted in large amounts of pollution in the air and water. In the twentieth century, consumption rates soared dramatically, and the pollution levels skyrocketed.