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Whenever I go shopping, I’m always catching myself asking the question do I need it? Do I need it? This essay will cover to what extent consumerism has become a problem in America and how it has impacted our culture. Can consumerism be a problem just in America, or can it be a problem that affects our entire world? Will we be able to solve the consumerism problems in the world or just keep adapting to the changes? The concept of worldwide consumerism dates back many thousands of years. The desire to own items of many origins has been prevalent in societies around the world. Our consciousness is directed into satisfying a need or impulse to own things that we may not entirely need. If we do not recognize this trait, we can spiral into a bad place.

We base Consumerist society on the theory that when you spend money on items, you are helping the economy grow. Obsessively shopping is also consumerism, some people now are very materialistic and don’t think twice about shopping especially when there is a sale going on. That we can purchase something that we perceive we need at a discount price that others may not know about can be a very irresistible force. But you have to stop and think we might help the economy but are we helping the environment? As the demand for merchandise increases the need to produce these items also increases. Producing these goods leads to more pollutant emissions, deforestation, and climate change.

Consumerism has been an ongoing problem that has increased over time, this is because products have been getting more advanced. More and more people end up wanting products that are marketed to them. The only problem with everyone purchasing these products is that we must mass-produce many items as they grow popular. Mass production is the manufacturing of large quantities of products, these items are then sold and in the end, are thrown out and replaced. Today you can see a lot of this waste disposal in our oceans, cities, and National parks. There is so much leftover trash from these products it is polluting our oceans to the point most of our sea life is dying due to it. The beginning of these cycles starts with the removal of raw materials from the earth. Large companies use these materials to make and mass-produce their product. The downside to using these raw materials is that they can cause large areas of pollution if left unregulated and unchecked. Since they harvest many of the raw materials in poorer third-world countries, the unregulated harvesting of raw materials almost always leads to uncontrolled pollution that has a huge effect on the entire Earth’s ecosystem.

A current popular trend is toward green consumerism. As more of the world’s population becomes educated in sustainable consumerism to protect the earth’s ecosystem and limited resources. Many consumers have become knowledgeable about what changes they can make by purchasing items that can be renewed. This can range from food and clothing to the energy they use to power their home and cars.

The only way these products can successfully make it to consumers is through advertisements. No matter where you are or what you are doing there are thousands of advertisements all around us every day. From the moment I wake up in the morning, I catch myself scrolling through social media and being bombarded by advertisements, this continues throughout the day while listening to the radio in my car to pumping gas at an ARCO station. The constant barrage of these advertisements from the time we rise till the end of the day can be an excessive 2,000 different commercials and ads. Although we are exposed to many advertisements daily, it is the most successful advertisements that will drive the consumer to their product.

The most successful advertising campaigns rely on targeted data collection to know how to pinpoint the items they are trying to sell to the right consumer that will most likely make the final purchase. The data itself has become a commodity that companies will pay highly for to sell their products. For example, if I was to google a product such as shopping for a car after just a small amount of time, I would notice on all of my social media accounts that there are advertisements for different cars that I researched for sale. This can be a plus or minus because I could find a better deal on the product I was searching for or this can just be a nuisance that can overwhelm the customer to the point of not wanting to make that purchase anymore.

One only needs to look at the amount of credit that is offered to us daily to quickly understand how someone’s life can spiral out of control easily. The manipulation by mass marketing coupled with the availability of credit cards can quickly lead to massive debt by consumers. The more purchases a consumer makes using credit cards, the more offers they seem to get to apply for more credit cards. Unless the consumer understands the amount of money, they are spending just on interest on these credit cards they can become highly indebted.

One of the greatest adverse effects of consumerism is that it can cause the public to constantly seek more merchandise to satisfy their hunger for the latest new product. People should stop and ask themselves selves “Can material objects be used to express affection and to seek self-esteem” (Etzioni 1)? Many people compare themselves to others wanting to be like them and be in the same position, but this can lead us into a state of anxiety and displeasure with ourselves because we are never happy with what we have. When people fall into the downward spiral of consumerism, they feed into exactly what consumerism wants, a customer who is never satisfied and is always looking for the next best purchase. Many people subconsciously and consciously try to out due to their family and friends with their purchases. Some other effects of consumerism can be negative in the sense that they can lead to feelings of our lives not enabling us to find the things that make us happy.

The many negative effects of consumerism in America today can be wide-ranging but the most obvious one is that it is an invasive and manipulative system. Intrusive advertising has become an unwelcome part of the majority of our lives. I can see this across the globe and reach into a worldwide array of cultures, this has exploded with the introduction of smartphones in 1992. The constant flow of endless advertising can make most of the U.S. numb. However, the most successful advertisement uses many forms of manipulation to convince the public that they need whatever product they are trying to sell.

Today Consumers can do all of their shopping from their homes from a wide variety of different products. Consumers have the chance to shop at home or on the go for anything ranging from clothing, electronics, vacations, and groceries. The internet has helped change the way we do our shopping, making it less stressful by having your items purchased and shipped to you in a matter of one click. But the moment you click on an item whether or not you want it you will be guaranteed to see ads about that item. This form of evasive marketing can become highly annoying to the customer.

It becomes a great nuisance and distraction when we are trying to work online and meet schedules.

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Clothing and apparel from the fashion and textile industries are made by using an extensive amount of water, energy, chemicals, and raw materials. These materials place a large demand on Earth’s natural resources.

There will always be a finite amount of resources available to produce the items society wishes to purchase. Years ago, the fur industry was not looked at in a negative light. Although many furs were reserved for the richest consumers, many customers purchased animal furs and coats to stay warm in the winter. After the invention and success of synthetic materials, society turned to the fur industry.

People saw the fur fashion industry as a cruel one that destroyed animals needlessly. Over time this negative impact ended the industry in the United States for the most part.

As society becomes more conscious and educated about the products they choose to purchase, a massive advertisement cannot always overcome negative perceptions. One example of an area where this has occurred is in the cosmetic industry, as the truth and the facts surrounding inhumane animal testing have become transparent many consumers of these products demand that no animal be used or harmed to test luxury items such as cosmetics.

It can be very difficult to remain grounded and not fall into the trap of endless purchases hoping to find happiness. As our world becomes more inundated with mass advertising, many people struggle to find a sense of meaning in their day-to-day lives. As we become more educated in the production of the many items, we consume demanding our products to be produced in a cruelty-free environment has become more prevalent.

At first, this notion started as a popular idea at the higher end of the disposable income level. But this has now become more popular amongst all consumers as we educate them on what goes into producing items such as cosmetics. Most rational people do not want to spend their hard-earned money consuming items and cruel tests subjected to animals. Once the knowledge of these cruel conditions becomes public the vast majority of people do not want to spend their money knowing that another creature may have suffered to produce whatever they want to buy.

To feel happier and more successful I drive us to consume more products by marketers and advertisements. Just talking to friends and family can help reinforce these ideas. Whenever we see someone getting a brand-new phone, clothes, or car we think to ourselves that we also need these things to be happy and if we don’t get them, then we can feel we are missing out. This can be a problem for our long-term happiness. One reason this can have such an effect on us is that advertising can be manipulative. These advertisements create needs we didn’t have in the past, these ads aim to create desires that aren’t real but can manipulate us to where we will buy the products we don’t need and will most likely not keep for very long. This manipulation is a lot harder for people who are more exposed to these feelings of wanting more to be happy, children are most likely to be caught in the feeling that having the latest toy will make them happier and more popular among their friends. We have all been there to buy a new product and show it off to make ourselves seem “cooler” and “happier” to everyone else when we just go back to our same routine.

Rather than buying products just to have them in our possession, we should all try to attempt to make sure we need these different products because all of us are subjected to mass marketing at some level. We all choose how we perceive this intrusion into our lives, it is up to us to gear up as individuals to get us to consume. We could either buy into this and fall into a life of consumption or decide that there are a lot of other things that are more important than materialistic goods that can help us achieve the happiness we are seeking.

Some of these things include family, friends, and a sense of purpose in our lives. Becoming a slave to the newest fashion or tech craze will never lead to a fulfilled life.

Everything we purchase and hope to one-day own will almost always be replaced by a bigger or better product.

It is up to the individual consumer to try to find a comfortable balance in their lives. We need to try to differentiate between the necessities required to find a balance in our lives and crossing the line into purchasing just to own more things.

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