Our society and economy are built on consuming goods. Production, distribution, and consumption make a never-ending circle, creating a consumer society. But what does consumer society mean?
By definition, a consumer society (consumerism) is a society that cannot rise above the circle as mentioned earlier. It has ethical, sociological, economical, and anthropological meanings too.
According to a popular interpretation, living in consumerism gives us one purpose only: to create goods and services that people can own. The more you own, the more valuable you are. This approach leads to the withering of human relationships and personal values (such as love, acceptance, respect, openness, affection, empathy, and consideration).
Consumer society is related to capitalism. Mass production led to increasing salaries, and the expanded market made it possible to purchase goods… actually, more than needed. Previous luxury goods quickly become available, transforming the lifestyle of people, and the operation of a company. Companies now need to produce not only necessary goods but also luxury products.
The goal is to make the upper levels of the Maslow pyramid achievable for the people. A consumer-based society provides multiple options to do so. With marketing and advertising, companies can keep society motivated to buy more and more products, or subscribe to their services.
However, living in a consumer-based society is not necessarily bad.
First of all, not everyone over-consumes goods. Some people make conscious decisions and do not buy unnecessary things. Fortunately, the movement of conscious decisions is getting stronger every day.
But consumer society has one big advantage for sure: it is easy to purchase goods, which makes our lives easier and more comfortable.
Based on a sociological theory, living in a consumer society will not make people happier, despite having all the things they need.
By an economical approach, it is not sustainable to grow all the time, making it inevitable to have an economic crisis from time to time.
The biggest disadvantage is that by over-consuming, we harm our environment. Our ecological footprint is growing. Year by year, we consume more and more goods, thus overwhelming our environment.
Unfortunately, as we interfere with the circle of nature, we cause huge environmental pollution. We are the reason for 99% of environmental damage.
The root of the problem is that industries are using non-renewable resources for production. With renewable resources, we could avoid catastrophes. Also, factories should focus more on R+D to minimize the use of pollutant chemical compounds and create products with eco-friendly solutions.
The ecological footprint contains the use of: