Being a Consumer Costs Who?

In 1955, American Economist Victor Lebow wrote an article that spoke of consumerism

“Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption.”

Take this in … really take this statement in

Think about your own rituals in spending. Review what is important to you. It’s interesting to review what could you not live without. Is it your skinny jeans? Your espresso coffee maker, the HD smart TV? If your skinny jeans, coffee maker and smart TV are quaking and you feel a bit shocked about giving them up, then

Understand you have been groomed to feel like that, for the convenience of economics.

Victor Lebow goes on to say,

“The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns. The very meaning and significance of our lives today expressed in consumptive terms.”

And the pay off for this grooming?

A false sense of happiness. Look around your home, there will be items that are precious, for sure. The items we live with become a part of our environment, iPods, laptops, favourite clothes, shoes, china, memento’s, but they don’t buy us happiness.

Washing machines and fridge/freezers, they make life easy for us, but happiness … nah. We may get pleasure from them, but they don’t give us happiness. That comes from within. Always.

Let me remind you of the quote from our friend Victor above. That we make consumption our way of life … status, acceptance, and prestige are now to be found in our consumptive patterns … and I dare you to look around your home and ask yourself what would you give up to save the planet? If not the planet, then your children’s children?

Tough call?

Over the centuries you have been trained. Starting with the Age of Enlightenment (Reasoning) well, actually before that with religion, then the age of enlightenment, followed by the Industrial Revolution. Our schools and society are set up to make us into consumers.

Then along came Victor Lebow – may he turn in his grave to hear me blaspheme.

Because he, along with other thinkers of their day, have pronounced it’s good to consume. Our modern society runs on that basis, to the exclusion of the long-term effect on our finite planet and ultimately the humans, animals, and plants that live here.

One last thing, ask yourself how driven are you to buy the latest mobile phone? What else is it going to give you? Faster speed? Great pictures, 1001 apps, convenience? Wow, that’s way more important than the resources it took to make the phone. Isn’t it?

Did you know that it takes nearly 13 tonnes of water to make a mobile phone?

Staggering. So staggering, it sounds like an exaggeration of mythical proportions doesn’t it? Get out of here I thought, c’mon – that’s not true, till I looked up the research. I had to read it 3 times to make sure I had it right.

That’s how hoodwinked we have become into believing our way of life is good. It is for us, but not so great for the live planet and all its inhabitants.

Once you start investigating the metals and minerals that go into your smartphone, There’s more to consider than just how much of this stuff is left underground. The way it’s extracted, the impact of the mining, the wage of the workers and the way the mining profits are used all have an influence on production and thus the cost and environmental footprint of your smartphone.”

Although this post might create an impact of further doom and gloom in an already difficult time, the purpose is to wake us up to the reality of ‘normal.’

At least ask the uncomfortable questions.

It’s tough to think about these things right now with a pandemic on. Maybe, we are in a prime position as consumers to say no more. To understand that we do impact the environment and maybe we are not in charge and need to listen to life. 

Don’t forget we have been groomed by religion, thought leaders, economists and governments to think that being a Consumer is a brilliant way to be.

Blinded by the effects of that, cushioned and safe in our warm homes, immune to the plights of the poorest in our world who are serving us and a system. We really do have a choice and a responsibility to call for change.

That is one huge positive to take from this. We are powerful beyond measure in our buying choices.

If not for us, then it must be for our children and their children.