Consumerism is the main reason for many of today’s social issues. The story on stuff breaks down each step of the material economy. It is based on the life cycle of products from extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal. But it is not as simple as that. There are many factors that are apart of each step and they are detrimental to the environment, humans, and animals. Every day we see thousands of advertisements trying to persuade us that we need to buy a company’s product so that we will feel fulfilled. Products are made to be replaced or go out of style quickly. With how much humans are consuming and throwing out right now it is causing deforestation, climate change, sweatshops among a list of many other unethical problems. The more I learn about this topic the more I realize materialistic items are the root of many of today’s problems.
Many people argue that poor people are causing environmental degradation. There is no doubt that when someone is living poverty they will be subjected to try to make a living in a way that is bad for the environment such as agriculture, mining, and forestry. When people are living in such poor condition they do not have the resources to be environmentally conscious. Incentives are a good way to help provide the poor with ways to make an income in a clean way. This also goes for the green building. Buildings account for 65% of energy consumption and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. Providing incentives for green building would a huge step in the right direction since they account for a big portion of greenhouse gas emissions. When people blame the poor for environmental degradation is it not fair. Big corporations and consumers are just as responsible. The difference is that we have the choice to stop purchasing unethical items and not participate in actions that will further destroy the environment.
As I continue learning about the wicked problem I have chosen to explore it has made me become more aware of how much of say consumers have on how the way companies are run. Sweatshops have been going on far too long. The number of conscious consumers has risen quite a bit in the last few years. This change in perspective has forced companies to cut down on their carbon footprint and become Fairtrade certified. If the number of people that are concerned with the way their clothing is being manufactured more and more companies will change the way they do business. The bottom line is that consumers are the reason for sweatshops and if they start making ethical choices they can help create good working conditions. Sweatshop workers are forced to make a certain quota for the day before they can even leave the factory. These demands are made by corporations because people continue to buy way more than they need. It is important that manufacturers start designing products for emotional attachment unlike how they are manufacturing for products to be quickly replaced.
Currently, I have switched over to reusable shopping bags and water bottles. Along with that, I have made the decision to stop shopping at fast fashion retailers. For someone like me who loves shopping and is a fashion merchandise major cutting down on the amount of clothing I buy will be tough, but the outcome is by far more important. Instead, I will shop second hand or buy from ethical clothing companies. I have a long way to go on my sustainability journey, but I plan on being an activist. Next semester I want to join the environmental science club at OSU. This course has really opened my eyes to how each person plays a role in the environment.