You often hear politicians from presidents on down talking about American values. We value many things. One value many hold high is their ability to fully participate in our consumer culture. We never have enough of anything. We tire quickly of the old, and we need the adrenaline shot that something newer and bigger brings. If we could just have that magical “thing” we are sure to be happy. Shopping is many Americans favorite past time.
We have been brainwashed by corporate advertising since our earliest childhood to want more and more “happiness giving” products. The appeal is to our emotional self, rational thinking is never needed. Don’t you know that “clothes make the man?” Sure we all need to make certain purchases. Our shoes do wear out, but how many closets are filled with shoes that have barely met the pavement. How often have we been mesmerized into purchasing the latest model while the old gadget still meets our needs? Corporate advertising cares nothing for the truth, only that you spend your money.
If you have ever seen the “hoarding” shows on TV, you see the extreme of this cultural illness. How many average families have garages, attics, and basements filled with their accumulated stuff? How many storage units have been rented to handle the overflow? Those lines to get the new iPhone are another manifestation of our cultural illness.
Many of our fellow citizens end up in credit card debt not because of a lost job, but because they couldn’t stop their consumptive quest. When the crooks on Wall Street with greed and criminality caused the economic crash, many found themselves “under water” on second mortgages that were taken to cover consumer debt? Yes, many through no fault of their own ended up losing homes, but the demand for ever bigger homes must also be considered part of our quest for more of everything.
Most don’t even consider how their excessive consumption is a major contributing factor in our destruction of the earth’s life systems. We don’t think about the destructive chain of events involved with our purchases. First raw materials our ripped from the earth. Then the raw materials are shipped consuming energy to the factory where more energy is used producing products. Production creates wastes which often pollute and are toxic. Then the product is shipped to the retailer who sells us the product. 90% of our purchases then end up is a landfill within six months.
Our blind consumerism is a major component of our planetary life destroying behavior. Rather than innumerable toys for our kids and grandchildren, shouldn’t we consider the gift of a healthy planet a greater gift? Real food not full of sugar, dyes, pesticides and hormone disrupters is a much more important gift. No child having an asthma attack caused by air pollution is a right, not a gift.
Yes, we should recycle all that we can. We should demand that manufacturers make their products totally recyclable. But, we save so much more than our purchase dollars when we don’t needlessly consume. We have exported many things to the countries around the world. We now have exported our senseless consumerism. All this might be fine except we already need a couple of more earth’s to supply all our wishes. Since there are no other earth’s nearby, we had better start taking a lot better care of the only earth we will ever have.