- Andrea Juarez
Why we need to shop less, and enjoy more
Is no longer surprising that every time we go shopping, we buy something new even though last week we bought something that we wanted but didn’t really need.
It seems as if having the latest cellphone makes us feel more interesting, or having the most expensive clothes make us feel better than everyone else.
We think that having all these possessions will make us feel happier. They won't.
A Northwestern University study found that people who place a great value on wealth, status, and material possessions are more likely to suffer from depression and become more anti-social.
During an experiment, university students were asked to complete questionnaires about images where they saw luxury goods such as fancy cars and expensive jewelry or natural scenes devoid of consumer products.
The ones who saw the luxury goods said they felt sad and anxious and less likely to socialize.
In another experiment, students were presented a case of shortage of water with a well shared by them and three other people.
They were asked to identify themselves as consumers or individuals. The ones who identified themselves as consumers said they felt less responsible for the shortage and less likely to help solve the problem.
The Huffington Post reported on a 2002 study published in the journal Psychology and Marketing, found that consumerism tends to capitalize on those who doubt themselves and their own self-worth constantly, and use it in order to sell products.
“Consumerism is a belief system and culture that promotes consuming as the path to self- and social improvement,” said Stephanie Kaza, a University of Vermont Environment Professor and Buddhism practitioner.
“As a dominant cultural force, consumerism offers products to address every dissatisfaction.”
Consumerism affects not only our pockets but also our lifestyle and the rest of the world.
An example of this is Halloween time, candy companies see 8 per cent of their sales during the holiday, according to the National Confectioners Association (NCA).
Overeating is another example of consumerism.
This behaviour leads to other problems such as obesity and heart disease.
According to Global Issues website, $11 U.S. billion dollars are spent on ice cream in Europe, the same amount of money that could provide food or education to low-income people around the world.
The demand increase also affects the environment. The need to produce goods increases as well, which leads to pollutant emissions, accelerated climate change and an increase in land-use and deforestation.
The consumption of avocados is another example of this problem. According to International Policy Digest, the global demand for avocados is increasing the deforestation in Michoacan, Mexico due the high demand for the fruit.
Farmers have illegally destroyed swathes of forest, cutting down pine and fir trees to plant more avocado trees, ignoring that they’re affecting the ecosystem and destroying the natural habitats.
Animals like the monarch butterfly, one of the most famous attractions of Michoacan, have been affected.
Consumerism is unsustainable. However, there are ways to overcome it.
Make sure you buy only what you need, recycle, thrift shop, reuse items or invest in experiences such as concerts or traveling, instead of material goods.
A research from San Francisco State University found that people who spend their money on experiences are happier than the ones who spend it on material items.
The joy of purchasing something can make us feel happier in an instant, but then the joy disappears. On the other hand, the memories of concerts, trips, and adventures are able to last a lifetime.