Consumerism Series

"Hurry! Buy More Stuff!" sign at protest

According to Merriam-Webster, consumerism is “a preoccupation with and an inclination toward the buying of consumer goods.” It has significantly shaped recent world history–as Westerners in particular enjoy more and more products that are cheaply produced in low wage countries. Currently, the ability to consume is widely perceived to be equal to prosperity. If you can afford a multitude of consumer goods, you are well off. Thus, consumerism closely ties into the dominant understanding of the American Dream. The list of blog post below address some of the problems created by consumerism and offer ways to rethink prosperity away from consumerism.

  • SCORAI group photo
    Rethinking Prosperity at SCORAI Conference
    Rethinking Prosperity attended the Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative Conference in June.  SCORAI, as its known, is a knowledge network of professionals working at the interface of material consumption, human well-being, and technological and cultural change. There aim to foster...
  • The only sustainable growth is degrowth
    Solutions: Degrowth
    Degrowth is a political, economic, and social movement based on ecological economics and anti-consumerism. It is a response to the limits-to-growth argument that was first articulated by the think tank Club of Rome in its report entitled The Limits to Growth, which was published in 1972. Proponents of...
  • Affluenza book cover
    What is Affluenza and Are You Infected?
    In recent weeks, the question of “what in the world is affluenza?” has regained prominence in the national media due to the infamous Ethan Couch case. In 2013, the sixteen-year-old Couch killed four people and injured numerous others driving drunk and recklessly on a road in a Northern Texas suburb....
  • "Hurry! Buy More Stuff!" sign at protest
    How to really win the holidays
    The Christmas season is a good time to think about why we are spending so much money, time and energy shopping for consumer products. During the holiday season, stores have extended hours and most everybody gets into an often-stressful shopping craze trying to get the perfect gift for everyone. In recent...
  • A cartoon person has a weak arm on one side of their body to represent "citizen muscle" and a strong arm on the other side, representing the "consumer muscle."
    The Rise of the Consumer Citizen
    Arista Burwell-Chen We have all felt it, that intense longing for the newest, flashiest version of something we already own. Whether it be clothes, a car, or a computer, Americans are constantly told by the media and politicians that in order to be a successful member of society, we need to consume the...
  • Americans Are Dead First
    Americans Are Dead First
    Stephen Bezruchka is a Senior Lecturer in Global Health and Health Services at the University of Washington.  “To be or not to be” is the question Hamlet asked centuries ago. The answer in the United States is that not-being at too early an age is the reality we face. Let me explain. Being requires...
  • The Consequences of Our Insatiable Technology Appetites
    The Consequences of Our Insatiable Technology Appetites
    By Neha Saraf | In such a rapidly advancing technological environment, we often get lost in the updates, latest gadgets, posts, tweets, texts, etc. Our voracious appetite for better, newer, faster, lighter technology can blind us to the simple truth – the production of these new devices results in...
  • Cleaning Your Face While Polluting The Ocean
    Cleaning Your Face While Polluting The Ocean
    ByMolly Leischner | There is irony in that we can be both cleaning our face and polluting the oceans at the same time. Do you use a face wash that also exfoliates? Well those little beads that make the product an exfoliator are actually plastics. Those plastic micro-beads then are washed down our drains...
  • Is Our Need for NEW Ruining Our Sustainability?
    Caitlin Petrie Last week I came across a video entitled: “This is how little kids react these days when you show them a Walkman”. The video was literally seven and a half minutes of kids, ages 4-14, who