Quantcast

Mindless Overconsumption Is Destroying You and the Planet

Popular
www.facebook.com

By Frances Lo

Do your clothes make you happy? Or, after the excitement of the shopping spree fades, does your new stuff tend to lose its in-store magic by the time it's reached your wardrobe?


A new survey of international buying habits has found that we buy far more than we need and use. Two thirds of Hong Kong residents admit they own more than they need. The same is true for 60 percent of Chinese and more than half of German and Italian respondents. But the mindless overconsumption of fashion has become our cultural norm.

Online shopping fuels this overconsumption. It's easier than ever to buy new clothes by clicking through social media feeds whenever you see something you like. And it's a time consuming habit: The average Chinese consumer spends at least two hours online shopping every day.

The reasons for this are emotional and social. For many, comfort buys occur when people need to channel their anxieties. Shopping is a way to kill time, relieve stress and avoid boredom. But the cheap thrill of buying something new dies away pretty fast. Half of the people surveyed said that the immediate excitement of a shopping spree lasted less than a day. After the binge comes the hangover.

When they're not shopping, around a third of the East Asian people surveyed admit feeling empty, bored or lost. What's more, around half feel guilty about their shopping habits, sometimes hiding their purchases from others for fear of negative reactions or accusations of wasting money. Shopping does not make us happy. We already own too much and we know it.

Greenpeace

So why do we shop? We are searching for excitement, looking to increase our self-worth, confidence and recognition. The American media activist and advertising critic, Jean Kilbourne, has commented about how deeply advertisers insinuate themselves by exploiting basic human desires like friendship, happiness and success in advertising for profit.

The result is "Stuffocation," a term coined by British cultural forecaster James Wallman. It describes a state where people's lives are trapped in a vicious cycle of working and accumulating products in order to keep up with the pace of consumerism. This fuels the anxiety of modern life; destroying the planet while keeping us from leading more imaginative, fulfilling lives. Materialism is eating us inside out.

So how do we stop it? Our survey showed that ads, promotions and 1-click buying functions are all designed to trigger impulse buying. The rate of buying increases the more companies speed up delivery. Therefore, the slower the buying process, the lower the desire to shop. To break free from the cycle of consumerism, we need to slow down.

Next time you find yourself about to buy something new online, give yourself a few minutes to think. Sleep on it and see if you still want it in the morning. When we switch off our phones and go outside instead of into shopping malls, we won't buy so much.

The joy of life is ultimately defined by our relationships to each other and the connection we feel to the natural environment. Instead of stuffocating ourselves, let's enjoy the genuine happiness that stems from leading a fulfilled life.

Frances Lo is a campaigner at Greenpeace Taiwan, working on overconsumption.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Tim P. Whitby / 21st Century Fox / Getty Images

The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.

Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.

The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
A protest march against the Line 3 pipeline in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 18, 2018. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Collin Rees

We know that people power can stop dangerous fossil fuel projects like the proposed Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline in Minnesota, because we've proved it over and over again — and recently we've had two more big wins.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Scientists released a study showing that a million species are at risk for extinction, but it was largely ignored by the corporate news media. Danny Perez Photography / Flickr / CC

By Julia Conley

Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.

Read More Show Less
DoneGood

By Cullen Schwarz

Ethical shopping is a somewhat new phenomenon. We're far more familiar with the "tried and tested" methods of doing good, like donating our money or time.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

Summer is fast approaching, which means it's time to stock up on sunscreen to ward off the harmful effects of sun exposure. Not all sunscreens are created equally, however.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images

The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.

Read More Show Less
Flooding in Winfield, Missouri this month. Jonathan Rehg / Getty Images

President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.

"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.

Read More Show Less
Reed Hoffmann / Getty Images

Violent tornadoes tore through Missouri Wednesday night, killing three and causing "extensive damage" to the state's capital of Jefferson City, The New York Times reported.

"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."

Read More Show Less