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The Good and Bad of Consumerism – Part 3

Nov 24, 2021

Consumerism can be defined as an economic and social ideology and order that encourages consumption or acquisition of goods/services in a never-ending cycle. Consumerism encourages purchasing and consumption of goods and services in excess of a person’s basic needs.

In economics, the term consumerism is used to refer to economic policies which encourage consumption. In a consumerist society, people are bombarded by adverts, discounts, product launches, product giveaways among many other promotions meant to encourage constant and significant spending on goods and services, not forgetting the current Black Friday deals. Consumerism encourages pursuit for the ”good life”. This may come at the expense of things like saving and investing.

The rise of consumerism today is evident in both developing and developed countries. This can be seen in the mass production of luxury goods. The media is also saturated with advertisements. Personal debt levels are also rising globally which is an indication of more people buying goods excessively on impulse or without proper financial planning. Other evident signs of consumerism include product innovation.

So is Consumerism Good or Bad? Here are some points!

Benefits of consumerism

1. Economic growth:
Consumerism drives economic growth. When people spend more on goods/services produced in a never-ending cycle, the economy grows. There is increased production and employment which leads to more consumption. The living standards of people are also bound to improve because of consumerism.

2. Boosts innovation and creativity:
Since consumers are actively looking for the next-best products/services to buy, producers and manufacturers are under constant pressure to innovate. As consumers access better goods and services, living standards once again improves.

Cons of consumerism

1. Environmental degradation:
Increasing demand for goods put extensive pressure on natural resources such as water and raw materials. Consumerism also results in the excessive use of energy. Consumerism also encourages the use of chemicals which are known to degrade the environment. In a nutshell, consumerism does more harm than good to the environment.

2. Moral degradation:
Increasing consumerism tends to shift away societies from important values such as integrity. Instead, there is a strong focus on materialism and competition. People tend to buy goods and services they don’t need so that they can be at par or at a higher level than everyone else.

3. Higher debt levels:
Consumerism also increases debt levels in a society. The number of people taking short term loans such as payday loans to buy luxury goods has increased drastically. Many short-term loans aren’t channelled into constructive use today.

4. Mental health problems:
Consumerism increases debt levels which in turn results in mental health problems like stress and depression. Trying to follow the latest trends when you have limited resources can be very exhausting to the mind and body. Consumerism forces people to work harder, borrow more and spend less time with loved ones. Consumerism gets in the way of fruitful relationships. It affects the overall well-being of people negatively in the long run since research has proven that people don’t get valuable and long-lasting fulfilment from materialism.

Summary
Consumerism has a good and bad side. Although consumerism drives economic growth and boosts innovation, it comes with a fair share of problems ranging from environmental and moral degradation to higher debt levels and mental health problems. Since we are already in a consumerist society, it is advisable to strike a healthy balance. A person’s love for the finer things in life should not come at the expense of his/her mental health and financial stability.

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