Every year, brands produce over 100 billion fast fashion and consumer goods, of which they discard countless products as waste material. These figures do not stop there. In fact, with the progress of these money-making industries and rising consumer demands, the numbers will seemingly rise significantly and reach unfathomable levels. Despite all the recycling campaigns and awareness programs, it is unfortunate to note how unsustainable growth is inevitable for these industries.
Consumerism and the industrial revolution is taking a toll on our everyday lives. Before, brands produced consumer goods for the purpose of recycling or repairing. Now, they have transitioned to a more wasteful or ‘throwaway’ approach. Fast fashion brands have adapted this change by purposely creating ‘disposable’ products and encouraging consumers to purchase more of their products.
How Consumerism is Affecting our Everyday Lives
Consumerism typically comes with a negative impact, especially when you integrate it into everyday lives. Industries quickly responding to consumer demands have led to an overconsumption of goods and developed a sense of false necessities among the public. This has created the ‘never enough’ culture. Some regard consumerism as part of a bigger capitalist scheme in an attempt to control the public. Meanwhile, it holds the media primarily responsible for influencing consumer spending patterns through heavy advertising.
The Environmental Impact
The effects consumerism has on society, and the environment is a lot worse than it might seem. It is often undermined. The production of fast fashion products and consumer goods on a mass scale leads to a significant increase in waste generation, emissions, pollution, and water consumption.
According to fast fashion stats, in 2015 alone, the production of these products contributed to a whopping 5% of global emissions, which was more than the emissions caused by maritime shipping and international flights altogether. Five years later, the stats are only worsening, in addition to the vast production of unrecyclable consumer goods.
With the advancement of technology, brands are opting for semi-manufacturing products in smaller countries that provide the edge of cheaper costs. These companies are, therefore, highly responsible for contributing to the increase in emissions over the past few years.
Unlike natural goods, synthetic products are water-intensive. These products are exhausting our existing natural resources and consuming water in abundance. Moreover, these very products are non-recyclable, which means they fall far beyond the boundaries of ‘environmental friendliness.’
As stated earlier, with the development of these industries, the production of waste will continue to grow over time. Industries that once created products using natural, biodegradable and recyclable resources are now switching to cheaper alternatives and synthetics to encourage more spending while reducing their costs of production. This profit gap for companies is opening all doors of danger for the environment and can have a serious impact on society in the future if not dealt with as soon as possible.
Products are now made in a way that does not encourage any sort of recycling at all. In fact, these products end up in landfills.
Whether it’s fast fashion, technological gadgets, and more- it is essential that the masses and leaders take matters seriously for the times ahead. Environmental experts predict that future generations will suffer from the rise in the industrial revolution and digitalization. Consumers should consider making the most out of what they have and reusing it rather than opting to buy a new product. Not only will this discourage businesses from producing unsustainable goods, but it will bring about a positive impact on the environment.
For instance, instead of going out to be a new cell phone, simply have the phone repaired and upgraded to save up on some extra cash while benefiting the environment. It’s the best of both worlds.
Consumerism and rising demands have also caused significant ethical issues that society continues to face every day. It has given air to the production of lab-grown and synthetic products in an attempt to satisfy consumer demands at the bare minimum. In fact, consumers are now convinced that these faux products are a lot better than what was produced earlier.
Mined jewelry, for instance, which was once limited to the upper classes of society, has now witnessed a rise in demand by consumers worldwide to ‘fit in’ with the rest of the world. With over-extraction from jewelry mines and exhaustion of resources, the industry is reverting to artificial and infamous methods of growing diamonds in labs as diamond alternatives.
Brands are now recognizing the impact consumerism is having on society and is therefore promoting their products by ‘greenwashing’ them. This is a way of portraying the brands to be a lot more sustainable and environmentally friendly than they actually are. They tend to be more open with their production methods to ensure transparency but are still far off from being called sustainable.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to the way consumers behave. Change begins from within, and to prevent the adverse impacts it could bring to future generations, awareness campaigns and legal action must be taken strictly to discourage such a wasteful culture.