Consumerism in World

There is enough food for every person on earth to consume 2500 calories a day, not including fruit or roots. It is odd that despite this fact there is still an overwhelming level of poverty in the world. The wealthiest 20% of the world receive most of the food in the world and spend huge amounts of money to purchase all this food. In order for the elite to live at the standard it does, the majority of the world must go without. Millions starve because the elite prefer death of the hungry to their own inconvenience. This situation is not easily remedied.

First, people must begin to understand that they must eat only as much food as they need. Many would argue that they never have any leftovers and that all the food in their house gets eaten with little thrown away. This is good in the sense that food itself is not being wasted, but every American doesnt need to eat as much food as they do. When a high percentage of people in this country are overweight and most people in third world countries are ghastly underweight and undernourished, then it is apparent that the citizens of this country must consume much less food.

After understanding the issue at hand, Americans must then stop eating three to four meals a day and stop stuffing themselves at every meal. This would be hard to accomplish because this would mean making a sacrifice, which the rich already have big problems with, but also because the food-producing corporations would do everything in their power to stop this from happening. There is no market for these corporations in small third-world countries where they may have to sell their products at lower prices and no longer make astronomical profits.

On an anti-consumerism website, these chilling statistics are given to show that America and the worlds richest are destroying our planet rapidly. The United States, which has 6% of the world’s population, uses 30% of the world’s energy supply. 20% of the worlds population, (in other words its wealthy consumer class), is responsible for over 50% of its ‘greenhouse effect’ atmospheric pollutants, 90% of its ozone-depleting CFC gases, 96% of its radioactive waste… and so on (enviroweb. org). Many may say that the reason for these embarrassing statistics is because the United States is the largest industrialized nation in the world.

This argument is not valid because every other industrialized nation in the world combined is larger than the United States, but each of these nations separately do not produce nearly as much of these poisons into our environment. It is because these countries care more about the environment than making money by selling and producing products that are harmful to the environment. This is why with the Kyoto Accords, all major industrial nations agreed to cut emissions; all except for the United States.

It is obvious that this agreement will fail without US involvement just by looking at aforementioned statistics. It is unclear at first why the United States refuses to cut down on pollution. It becomes clear when one realizes that big corporations with the help of lawmakers are doing all they can to make money, and that the environment is expendable as long as destroying it will increase profit opportunities. The consumer could easily refuse to buy products from companies that are listed as major polluters, but this would once again be an inconvenience to the public.

These corporations think not about the future, but only about the present. They are destroying their own country by logging national forests, releasing toxins into the air, and drilling wildlife refuges for oil. Their blatant exploitation of developing countries is also horrific. Many of these countries cant make environmental laws because they need the business and the corporation would take business to a more lenient country if they forbade the destruction of the environment. Most Americans dont think about what the consequences are as a result of their full backing of these corporations.

The fact is that most Americans dont think about consequences much at all when it comes to their rampant consumerism. This leads to the question of why Americans (and many Europeans) love to spend money. There are many concepts that are very familiar, but when studied, are quite appalling. Take, for example, the concept of impulse buying. This is when the company encourages the consumer to buy with as little reflection as possible. Any product information is seen as a hindrance unless it supports the product(consumerzone. org).

The wealthy will constantly spend exorbitant amounts of money on an outfit that will be worn once and then stored in a closet for eternity. Teenagers have over the past decade become walking advertisements for companies and care more about what brand of shoes their friends have than about their real qualities. Americans spend huge amounts of money on useless products largely because of advertisements.

As shown in Kortens When Corporations Rule the World, 1995, it can be seen that the point of the advertisement is to show that the product will bring happiness to the consumer, but when the consumer buys the product, they now have less money. They soon realize that the product is not what it seems because it has not given them the delight that they expected. Another advertisement promises to fix this problem, and the cycle begins again, except this time the consumer has less money.

It is not terribly hard to see what is going on. The world has, among many other problems, entered a downward spiral of hunger and environmental damage. This spiral is being fed by large multi-national corporations that in turn are fed by brainwashed Americans and upper and middle class citizens of the world who have an addiction to spending money. The solution to these problems is for Americans to first recognize the damage that they have already inflicted on the rest of the world and to then begin to change their ways.

Americans must stop destroying the environment, directly by recycling and indirectly by forcing corporations to stop polluting. Then Americans must stop believing that material possessions are all-important and must stop rampant consumption of products. This is a challenge not easily met, but feasible if the proper attitude is attained. To acquire this attitude, Americans must realize that what they are doing will destroy the world eventually, and if they stay on their current path, probably much sooner than they thought.

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