Negative Impacts of Consumerism: Throw Away Culture, Fast Fashion, Tech and Plastic Waste

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Daily people come back home drained, exhausted from work. Students are arriving back from a lengthy day at school, only because they need to do well to get a job.A job is required in order to sustain people’s expenditure. They work, to spend money, only to earn it back. A repetitive process. People view about 3000 advertisements a day, making it hard of them to feel appeased with what they have. Every day they are told what is wrong with their lives, and a simple fix is to go for some retail therapy.This lifestyle has brought about the consumerism industry and sometimes it is also referred to as a policy that promotes greed. This society emerged in the late 17th and rose throughout the 18th century.

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The change was influenced by the growing numbers of the middle class that embraced new ideas about luxury consumption and the ever-increasing impotence of fashion as a drive for purchasing rather than necessity. The consumerist culture necessitates people’s behavior on spending more on consumer items like clothes, gadgets, and makeup instead of investments or savings. Consumers buy these items as they feel obliged to keep up with trends, and are continually looking to upgrade the quality of services and products (Baker, 2016). However, unfortunately, with the positive effects that consumerism has brought along to help with the development of countries, it also has a lot of negative points as well such that the demand by consumers are overgrowing more than what our planet can replenish them. It was also estimated that if everyone on earth consumed the same amount as the average US citizen, then four planets would be needed to sustain us; therefore, such society poses a possible danger and stress for our world. Consumerism also affects society by causing global inequality as the massive rise in resource consumption in wealthier countries has outcomed in an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor just like the old saying that goes, “ the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer” (greentumble team, 2018).

Aforementioned all comes down to the throwaway culture that has come about from consumerism. People seemingly don’t love their purchases – throwing most clothes, stationery, makeup away after only one month’s worth of use is hardly a long-term relationship, – and training our young that image is everything can be catastrophic of our society and environment. We are overshooting the planet’s budget, and it is not even making us happier. Items, things people buy, are made to fail. The economy capitalizes on this just as Victor Lebow, Retailing Analyst said “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 spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption. We need things, consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever-increasing rate. “Retail companies are always very eager to keep up with the growing demands from consumerism society by supplying consumers with what they want which in return, helps to create a better relationship between the manufacturer and consumer. This process advantages both the retailers and consumers, and over time it creates a need for retailers to find better ways to be more efficient which results in new trends such as “fast fashion,” where retailers would quickly move inexpensive designs from the catwalks to stores. Fast fashion also benefits retailers as the constant introduction of new products encourages consumers to visit stores more frequently, and at the same time, consumers gain many benefits from this trend too as it enables the majority of them to purchase affordable trendy articles of clothing. As a result of this trend, it is becoming more difficult for the introduction of new fashion lines on a seasonal basis. Today, it is prevalent for fast fashion retailers to come up with new products continuously in a single week to stay on trend. Despite the benefits for consumers, fast fashion has also been viewed as a notorious trend as it encourages a “throw away” attitude through the built-in wear and tear of its products. Some debates that such “throw away” fashion adds up to pollution, poor workmanship and a poor working environment in countries that are growing. This trend has also been pointed out for being unfavorable on intellectual property ground, with designers claiming that their designs ideas were illegally mass manufactured by retailers (Fernando, 2017).

Fast fashion has a lot more undesirable impacts compared to its benefit which makes it a disastrous trend especially for women and the environment. Fast fashion is intended to be replaced quickly by need rather than desires. Clothing falls apart and would end up polluting landfills even if they were donated with the intention to make it into consignment shops. Moreover, In the US, only 10 percent of the clothes that were donated gets resold, and the rest would make it into landfills. 13 trillion tons of clothes were transported to landfills in the US alone where they stay stagnant for 200 years leaving contaminations such as toxic chemicals and dyes that would contaminate local soil and groundwater. The slow fashion community has discovered that reserving in fewer high-quality clothes helps to save budget because each piece would last longer. Apart from the pollution that it brings to the planet, Fast fashion also disempowers women. A generation of young women is trapped in poverty with fast fashion. 75 million people are manufacturing clothes today where 80 percent is made by women of the age of only 18-24 years old. It takes 18 months of hard work for a garment worker to earn the same amount of money as what a fashion brand CEO would make on their lunch break and most of these garment workers earn even lesser than 3 dollars per day. Fast fashion cuts corner the most through human exploitation. Most of the cheap clothes are made by young workers who are joining the industry as young as 14 years old to work hard and long hours to earn a low income while having to deal with sexual harassment (Fernando, 2017). Fast fashion is a dangerous trend as it causes substantial unregulated churn and burns which results in too much stress and pressure on our planet. Every year in the US, 12. 8 million tons of clothes are sent to landfills which creates a football field stuffed 14ft deep with clothes. Moreover, by 2030, the CO2 that has been emissions from the Fashion industry is predicted to rise by more than 60 percent to nearly 2. 8 billion tons per year. There have also been shortages of water for cotton producing countries like China and India, and with water usage that has been predicted to increase by 50 percent by 2030, these countries are undergoing a dilemma of choosing between producing cotton and securing safe drinking water (Q. ,2017).

Beauty products produced adds to the list. Many children child laborers as young as ten are pounding mica flakes of rock off the mountainside in horrendous conditions. Mica is a mineral that adds shimmer to beauty products such as blusher, lipstick, eyeshadow, and foundation, as well as to the paints applied by the construction and car industries. These children carry their baskets full of mica to the top of the mine, sorting and separating the rock debris from glittering fragments. Big companies like L’Oréal and Estée Lauder, as well as suppliers such as Merck, source mica from India (Paddison & Bengtsen, 2016). Beautiful packaging of products convinces people to buy it. It flirts from the shop shelves, luring them in with its attractive look. The more Instagrammable it looks, the more satisfaction people get. On youtube, there is vast myriad ‘unboxing’ videos, so vast that its a genre of its own, hooked on the suspense of watching tissue, luxury cardboard and ribbon being removed to reveal the prize. Moreover, yet, the legacy that beauty packaging leaves behind is far from beautiful.Each year more than 120 billion units of packaging are produced by the world’s cosmetics industry. The cardboard that beautifully holds perfumes, moisturizers and serums supply the loss of 18 million acres of forest each year. By 2050, If this level of consumption remains, landfills will have12 billion tonnes of plastic, the equivalent to 35,000 Empire State Buildings (Nouril, 2018)Plastic production has served its wonderful purpose for the most extended period due to its beneficial properties such that it is lightweight, water-resistant, durable, strong, economical and resistant to corrosion and chemicals.

For example, In the field of medicine, plastic has caused many prosperous life-lengthening and life-saving innovations such as the artificial heart which is capable of replacing a real heart,ventricles and valves and it last for years as the patient waits for a heart transplant. Plastic has also improved the ability to sterilize medical environment through the use of plastic exam gloves, syringes, and iv bags. Highly durable plastic has also been used for parts of knee and replacement of hips, pacemakers and other innovations (Bean-Mellinger,2018). All these advantages have successfully enriched lives in so many ways, but as the consumerism society grows and demand gets higher, it causes complacency in manufacturer leading to an overproduction of plastic and through the overproduction of plasticoutraises a huge problem such as Plastic waste, which poses as a significant fulmination to the wellbeing of our planet. While there are many valuable positive uses of plastic, consumers have become wholly reliant on single-use or disposable plastic, and this is causing the planet with severe environmental consequences. Every minute one million plastic drinking water are purchased, and every year up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are being used, all around the world. In total, half of the plastic manufactured is designed to be used not more than once. Plastic waste has become so pervasive in the natural environment that scientist has even concluded that it could be a geological indicator of the Anthropocene era. Plastic waste used to be relatively manageable as only a small amount of plastic was produced from the 1950s to the 70s. By the 1990s, plastic waste has tripled in its generation in two decades, followed by a similar rise in plastic production. In the early 2000s, plastic waste increased more in a single decade than it had 40 years back.

Today, there’s 300 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated every year, and that is close to the mass of the entire human population. Researchers have estimated that more than 8. 3 billion tonnes of plastic was produced since the early 1950s and about 60 percent from that total production ended up in landfills and natural environment (U,2018). E-waste is on the rise as well. Gone are the days where things are made to last. When something is wrong people throw electronics away and get a new one, only because it is cheaper. Technology is evolving very quickly, and most people are relying on the use of modern technologies to carry out various activities making consumers life more comfortable and convenient. It also continues to benefit lives of the consumer by allowing easier access to massive amounts of information on the internet, making communication and advertising easier, changing travel industry in positive aspects and data saving and retrieval are becoming more readily accessible, undoubtedly making it a significant part of consumers live.

However, as the consumerism culture grows,the production of electronics and technologies are rising rapidly as well which in turn leads to tech waste, posing a potential threat to the wellbeing of our planet (McArthur, 2016). Each year roughly 40 million metric tons of electronic waste is produced globally, in which 13 percent of that weight is recycled mainly in developing countries. Informal recycling market in countries like China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, and the Philippines are handling anywhere from 50 percent all the way to 80 percent of this wastage, often shredding, burning and dismantling them and the emission from these recycling practices are causing a considerable deterioration in human health and also the environment. While the health incrimination of e-waste is inevitable due to the lack of a proper working environment, few studies in Guiyu, a southeastern city in China, offers insight. This city is known as the largest e-waste recycling site, and its residents are exhibiting substantial digestive, neurological, respiratory and bone issues. Moreover, 80 percent of the children population in Guiyu are experiencing respiratory ailments, and they are also facing a massive risk of lead poisoning (MCALLISTER, 2013).

Apart from the detrimental health risk that tech waste has imposed, it also poses a much horrible impact on the environment. When tech waste is heated up, harmful chemicals are dispersed into the air causing damage to the atmosphere, and this form of damage is one of the most significant impacts that tech waste is causing to the environment. Toxic materials that seep into the groundwater when tech waste is thrown in landfills are causing adverse impacts in both land and sea animals (Mayeralloys2, 2018)Consumerism has a few advantaging factors as it profoundly impacts the growth of economies. It helps to create more job opportunities for people henceforth; companies would need more staff, workers, and employees to keep up with the growing demands from consumers. This process creates opportunity among the working population as it reduces the extent of unemployment. Consumerism is also beneficial for business owners and companies. Even if the goods and services are priced at the lowest possible costs, manufacturing companies will still gain profits as long as increased consumption is encouraged. This, in turn, would help with the development of countries in the long run. However, unfortunately, with the definite advantages that it offers, there are more outweighing disadvantages that are more crucial, making consumerism a disaster rather than a solution.

The consumerism society is growing at a breakneck speed, but unfortunately, the unwanted by-products of this quick growth are causing many disadvantages to the wellbeing of our planet in many ways. Disadvantages such as Throw away culture, Fast fashion, Tech waste, and Plastic waste. These disadvantages include disempowerment in women by exploiting young female individuals to be garment workers at a very young age, the encouragement of a “throw away attitude” through the built-in wear and tear of fast fashions products which causes an add up to pollution, poor workmanship and poor working environment in countries that are growing, overproduction of single-use plastic leading to overwhelming amount of plastic waste that has become so pervasive in the natural environment that scientist have even concluded that it could be a geological indicator of Anthropocene era. The amount of tech waste that has increased so much that each year roughly 40 million metric tons of electronic waste is produced worldwide in which 13 percent of that weight is recycled mainly on developing countries which is causing residents in recycling sites to exhibit strong digestive, neurological, respiratory and bone issues. However even with the advantages the disadvantages are outweighing the positive aspects, and it is causing massive damage to the wellbeing of the people and also the environment, and as a race people urgently need to find a different way of life

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