It’s that time of the year...the time of the year when you keep a dozen tabs open at once and press mercilessly at the refresh button in hopes to grab your favorite item before it runs out of stock. It’s the time of the year when all different kinds of stores bombard you with tens of different ads on a daily basis, hoping you’ll invest in one of their products. It’s the time of the year when it’s okay to go all out when it comes to shopping. It’s Black Friday!
While this day comes with many brilliant deals that allow your pocket to breathe a sigh of relief, it’s also the time of the year when sometimes, we lose track of what we’re actually buying. Price tags just look so tempting and attractive, and you just can’t help but...spend! Consumption isn’t a bad habit, as long as it is done carefully.
Since Black Friday is right before Christmas, many people take advantage of the special prices to invest in a present for their loved ones. However, since sustainability is one of our main values here at Caddyboo, we wanted to shine the light on why it particularly matters in the world of spending, and how you can buy your gifts more carefully.
Consumerism: Friend or Foe?
“Consumerism” is one of the most double-faced words in the dictionary. One of its faces is beautiful: consumption stimulates the economy, which in turn leads to more spending, higher income, and more job creation. When we’re all rich and employed, everyone is better off, right?
Not entirely. The word’s other face is ugly and manipulative - it has evolved from illustrating a world where everyone owns what they need, to a world where everyone owns what they don’t need at all. Societies are evolving at an unprecedented pace, and our pockets just can’t seem to keep up with it.
The fast fashion industry had an estimated value of a whopping 36 billion US dollars in 2019 according to Statista. This means everyone HAS to own the new Zara boots, or the new H&M jacket, even though they had gone on a similar shopping spree last week. People continue to invest in the new iPhone, despite the fact that their current one functions perfectly
So why do we keep buying things we don’t need, and why are most business models centered around the idea that one must create a non-existent need, and not around making what we already own more sustainable and durable, making us satisfied with what we own?
Are We Absent-Mindedly Destroying Our Planet?
The demographic that was previously described is known as the “consumer class” and according to the European Commission, it is set to comprise around 5.3 billion people within the next 10 years. Unfortunately, all of this investment in non-essential goods and a rapid economy, whether it’s through fast fashion or processed foods, has detrimental effects on our planet.
Our resources are finite and we are not giving them a break. When we want our goods to be made fast, it means we want them to be made cheaply. The materials that comprise them and the lack of craftsmanship results in products that lack durability and are likely to be thrown away quite fast. The accumulation of these “waste” products often made of non-biodegradable material burdens our environment and ecosystems, and makes many places on our planet uninhabitable.
The chemical wastes and plastics that the manufacturing process often results in get dumped in lakes and rivers that end up killing the sea life inhabiting them, and deplete our drinkable water supplies. The air we breathe is becoming increasingly toxic, and the food we eat is becoming less natural and organic.
The bottom line is: the less mindful we are about what we consume, the more likely we are to be absent-mindedly destroying our bodies and our homes.
Mind Your Spending to Help Your Mind
Now, let’s consider the less palpable implications of consumerism: our mental health. Many might assume that people consume so much because it makes them happier:
“I want to buy the newest Adidas shoes because I like them and they make me happy. I want to buy them because everyone has them and I will feel socially accepted!”
Truth be told, this is often not the case.
According to a 2012 study by Psychological Science, members of the consumer class are more likely to suffer from depression. More buying means more spending, and more spending means less money. This either means higher debt, or more time spent at work rather than with loved ones. So, although buying something of the latest trend might induce short-term, superficial happiness, the long-term effects could be quite negative.
So, What Should We Do Now?
By now, the answer to the question should be obvious. What would happen if we pay attention to what we are buying? If we invested in quality products, you are likely to be able to maximize their usage for a very long time. You don’t have to go on a shopping spree every other week, and throw away things that you simply believe are out of fashion. This is not to say that everyone should pursue a very minimalistic lifestyle, but rather that we should think about how what we buy the people we love will add value to their lives.
That’s why, this Black Friday, before you splurge, think to yourself, “will the person I’m buying this for really need this? Or will it go to waste?” Buy products that are made from recyclable materials. Spend on something a bit more expensive if, in return, you receive durability. Invest in local businesses that do not practice mass production. This is synonymous with welcoming the “good” face of consumerism, and shutting an eye to the other one.
Author: Ban Beidas