Cultural Effects of Consumerism

Consumerism is the human culture that encourages people to purchase and acquire products to keep the trade alive (Apecsadmin n.p). In a society that operates by consumerist culture, there are more adverts and competitive prices that aim to make the consumers purchase more products and create inexistent demand. Currently, the resources’ consumption is alarming. About 59% of the world’s resources are consumed by 10% of the population (“The Negative Effects of Consumerism.” n.p). This culture comes with a range of pros and cons. It makes the community perceive the purchasing and acquisition of materials as happiness rather than the satisfaction of needs. The members can easily judge their colleagues on their elements, such as fashion and automotive. As a result, there is increased additional purchase by those who have, which, in turn, increases pressure on the existing natural resources. Consumerism behavior is more rampant in the US than in the United Arab Emirates. Research has shown that if everyone’s consumption scale were equivalent to that of an average American, we would require four planets to sustain our lifestyle (“The Negative Effects of Consumerism.” n.p). This paper will discuss why consumerism causes more cultural harms than benefits (Shah n.p).

Consumerism destroys the environment in the long run. The human population has insatiable cravings for resources which makes increases the pressure on natural and human-made resources. Whether the required resources are natural or human-made, there is a direct or indirect impact on world resources. In the case of food products, they are mostly derived from farms and where they are manufactured; there is an environmental degradation that results from the disposal of industrial waste. There is increased cultivation of land to satisfy the demands, and in the process, sustainable farming methods are not practiced since the aim of the farmers is to make a profit (Goodwin et al. 7). Farming is accompanied by expansion and land clearance, which is achieved via deforestation, therefore causing climate changes. Other farming practices like livestock and poultry farming have also been associated with environmental degradation, which also has adverse cultural effects (Shah n.p).

Since some plants are more demanded than others, those whose demand is high are cultivated at the expense of others leading to loss of plant diversity. It also leads to the cultivation of non-food crops, such as sisal and flowers, which are in demand, and therefore, hunger is the long-run outcome. Another example is where these animals consume a lot of water and also cause pollution to water sources. Most interestingly are the findings that some of these animals are fed with more grains, while some poor persons are starving in some parts of the world. The unfortunate lack any otherwise than to believe that money brings happiness, making them willing to do anything to acquire commercial properties. There are communal disintegration and loss of unity where some animals are valued by their owners, more than fellow human beings (Shah n.p).

The culture is also one of the leading causes of poverty. The gap between the rich and the poor is widening as time goes by. The population now perceives and judges their colleagues on their material possession, which is very clear from the dressing to gadgets possession. There is this mindset that exists for those who ‘have’ that the poor can use the resources to be rich too. However, this is not applicable, as there are resources inequalities between different regions and individuals. The widening gap between the rich and poor is so broad that when the rich are disposing of the leftovers, some have nothing to eat. A saddening case is where some spend their cash on relatively useless products such as ice cream while others cannot afford a basic lunch. However, this is perceived to be normal, particularly in the US (Shah n.p).

Cultural effects may also a reason for health issues, joblessness, and rural-urban migration. Consumerism causes health problems to the poor due to malnutrition and to the rich because of overconsumption (Goodwin et al. 22). As a result, they have high chances of contracting lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases. The rate of joblessness may increase due to reduced compensation rates and increased workloads as the poor compete for these opportunities to make their ends meet.

There is also increased rural-urban migration as most people move to urban places to try their luck. This causes labor imbalance in the rural areas where there are productive farms as most people travel to the metropolitan area. Food shortage is the outcome, and as the law of supply and demand indicates, food prices rise as a multiplier effect of consumerism (Shah n.p). To neutralize this effect, people have to have a means of buying and acquiring these foods for their survival. The rich got some high purchasing powers and may displace the poor from their native land. The likely outcome is that the rich may not use the property productively, such as food production, but instead build an expensive home causing food shortage. On the side of the minority, they will be forced to migrate to other unfavorable places such as near wildlife increasing the cases of human-wildlife conflict (Shah n.p).

Environmental degradation and cultural effects are also caused by mineral and fuel excavation. Consumerism creates increased demand for automotive and electronics. With the emergence of industrious countries such as China, there is increased excavation to meet the demand for metals (Goodwin et al. 21). Research has indicated that the current generation has broken past consumption. Sustainability calls for the use of resources without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It is, however, clear that with the current consumption rates, the next generations’ abilities to meet their future needs are compromised by consumerism and capitalist culture. One of the fueling factors of this culture is that the developed countries are the ones advocating for sustainability and minimal use of resources. These efforts are seen as neocolonialism as these developed nations already used funds to establish their states, but they want to regulate other states. Worse still is the case of European countries who amassed resources from other countries to attain their status (Shah n.p).

Consumerism culture has also led to export pollution from the developed states to the developing countries. Excessive consumption has increased the pollution rates from industrial wastes (Goodwin et al. 17). Regulations are in place to regulate pollution where the firms are required to develop more efficient ways of processing their products when their emission exceeds an absolute limit (Goodwin et al. 11). Instead of improving their systems, some companies are opting to move some of their manufacturing branches to developing countries where there are fewer regulations and lower pollution impacts. Due to this, the developing countries manage to maintain a serene environment at the expense of weaker states in the name of foreign investment. The culture also promotes some inhumane activities such as exporting potentially dangerous materials to be recycled in the more impoverished nations, such as computer monitors. These events are hazardous to the local community and may lead to health problems. However, these countries of origin do not care about these as they are not concerned about the needs of others (Shah n.p).

Consumerism has also triggered social injustices revolving around poverty, land control, and ownership. The ideology has increased the desire for wealth, which causes some jealously. Individuals want to be productive while others are poor so that they can control them. They want to make money even via unethical means. For instance, instead of preventing a disease outbreak, some want it to occur so they can supply medicine to the affected region and make money in their private healthcare facilities. In all these cases, the developed nations’ population is to blame (Shah n.p).

The emergence of the purchase driven economy has also presented a risk to the consumers. The marketer already knows that the consumers are acquisition-driven; thus, they want to come up with affordable products. In the process, they may compromise quality, for example, in the health sector and the electronics. Low-quality electronics may cause health problems or disasters such as fire, while poor quality health services may cause a drug-resistant form of diseases or deaths (Logan n.p). This occurs where the population perceives money as the source of happiness while this is not the case. Money is good but may not buy sleep, good health, among other valuables (Apecsadmin n.p). Poor working environment and compensation scale may arise as company owners attempt to lower the prices of the products to attract a bigger market. The culture undermines social cohesion due to the internalization of highly destructive values of replacing everything with money (Logan n.p).

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The prevailing trend with this ideology is based on human psychology and sociology studies. Human beings are insatiable in their desires, and therefore it is believed that demand will exist in the presence of supply. Consumers were acting unwisely that consumer behavior, perhaps, did not solve to advance their standards of living or more general goals were generally dismissed as personalizing (Goodwin et al. 13). The extreme desire of acquiring properties will cause the consumers to go against some doctrines such as that that requires people to avoid coveting in the Christianity religion. Covetousness may encourage some criminal activities such as robbery and interfere with the existing cultures. As a result, the moral standards are eroded and decay and turmoil of families, neighborhoods, and society (Teshome n.p).

With all the cons of consumerism mentioned above, it has also a few pros. When correctly implemented, it may cause consumers to purchase more, which is an advantage to businesses. It may reduce the costs of living due to the drop in commodity prices in the market. The increased demand will also call for more workforces, and this may lead to increased employment opportunities. For these pros to be realized, consumerism has to be managed as the contrary may happen, for example, an increase of workloads instead of employing more personnel (Apecsadmin n.p).

In my opinion, consumerism is not a good idea as its cons exceeds its cons. It leads to perceiving money as the source of happiness and contributes to the widening gap between the rich and the poor. There is a significant degradation of the environment due to the inappropriate consumption of the use of resources. It has caused rural-urban migration as people move to try their luck. Researchers have indicated that our consumption exceeds the historical records, and should we continue in the same way, we’ll compromise the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs. The ideology has also increased the health issues from malnutrition and overconsumption. It also causes unfair competition where the rich continue to rich while the poor continue to be poor. The own possession of money, among other resources, makes the owners feel a kind of superiority and despises the less fortunate. The ideology causes corruption of morals as the desire for wealth exceeds and the weak attempt to look for alternative means of acquiring wealth. There are resources inequality between the developed and the developing countries. The developed nations take advantage of their position to transfer their waste to the developing countries.


Works Cited

Apecsadmin. “6 Pros and Cons of Consumerism.” 2016. Accessed 18 Oct 2020.

Goodwin, Neva, et al. “Consumption and the consumer society.” Global Development and Environment Institute, 2008, pp.1-26.

Logan, T. Collins. “What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Consumerism?” 2016. Accessed 18 Oct 2020.

Shah, Anup. “Effects of Consumerism.” Global Issues, 2005. Accessed 18 Oct 2020.

“The Negative Effects of Consumerism.” Greentumble, 2016. Accessed 18 Oct 2020.

Teshome, Mengisteab. “Culture of Consumerism Effects and Society.” Allafrica, 2017.

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