I just finished watching Wall-E which depicts a world that is uninhabitable due to the amount of trash that covers the Earth. This got me thinking about the reasons we should attempt to avoid out of control consumerism. If there is too much consuming then there are many disadvantages. There are the obvious reasons to not buy things such as racking up more debt, but there are reasons to refrain from buying things even if the money is available. Here are a few reasons that consumerism should be cut down.
Materials don’t make you happy – Thinking of all the things that I have bought, can I say any made me truly happy? Not really. There are many other things that have made me happier. I am happier for the friends that I have and the people that I interact than with my new possessions. How many people really reflect ten years down the road and smile because of something they bought? Friends and relationships bring happiness, memories bring happiness, and experiences bring happiness. Materials rarely bring happiness.
Sustainable Society – I must admit, I am an environmentalist at heart. I cry a little inside for every piece of trash I throw away. The more things that we buy, then more that we throw away. I don’t buy an object thinking that I will throw it away, but it is going to happen sooner or later. It would be nice to imagine that once we throw things away then they are gone forever, but this is far from the truth. If you must buy something, then buy something that can be reused. Cutting out simple purchases can make a large impact over time. Read books at the library or borrow from a friend instead of buying it. Rent movies instead of buying them. Keep your smaller TV instead of buying the next biggest one. You will save money as well as cut down on throwing away things.
Don’t buy things to impress others – It is pretty common to want an iPhone when you see everyone else with one, but that doesn’t mean you need one. Status symbols are useless objects that we are better without. Sure, you could get that really nice BMW to impress your friends and co-workers, but do you need it? Often people are too occupied with themselves to really be impressed with some flashy object. They might compliment you on it and never give it another thought, but you will have to think about it while you pay it off for the next couple of years. Skip the flashy cars and shiny watches. Let the other people have their large items, be happy with yours. People aren’t friends with you because of your possessions (and if they are then you might want to re-examine your friends).
The objects weigh you down – The more things you have, then the more that keeps you in your current situation. You will not have the ability to easily change your life if you are carrying around debt from all those purchases. If you are lucky enough to not accumulate any debt then you still are tied to your possessions. If you wanted to move to a new city then you have to find a place to fit all these things. If you want to travel the world then you have to find a place to store it. If you go through life picking up random things it doesn’t take long until you have to carry a lot of weight behind you. You can easily pick up and do whatever you want when you aren’t weighted down by objects.
You worry more – Your objects require constant care. You worry that your new big TV will get hit, you worry that the car will get a dent, you worry about something breaking. You have less to worry about if you have fewer things. If you don’t own a TV then you don’t have to worry about it. If you don’t own a bed then you don’t have to worry about it breaking or being uncomfortable. You are able to live a little simpler and worry less. Perhaps you don’t perceive that you worry, but think about the next time something breaks, it caused you some form of discomfort. You might not have worried about it breaking, but you were attached to it once it did. You are attached to these items, so the less items the fewer attachments.
Surviving on little isn’t hard – How little can you really survive on? Comfort items are awesome. I will admit that my bed is comfy, but do I need it? Not really, the floor would work pretty well. I don’t need a television, or a desk. Think of how little you could live with and you might be surprised. Many things make life easier, but you don’t need to buy them. Try to live with less, it isn’t as bad as it seems.
The person that dies with the most toys is still dead – Sad to say but you aren’t saving for something big here. You can get everything you ever want, but you still can’t take your iPod to the afterlife. I would suggest spending that money on family, friends, and experiences instead of material possessions. Your memories will serve you far better than your possessions ever could. Use your time wisely, don’t work your life away in order to afford the next fun thing. Spend that time with others and live on less.
No matter how you do it, just see if you can reduce the amount that you buy. You would have to worry about finding ways to make money to feed this addiction. You will slowly adjust to needing to buying less and it will become quite easy. It is a cycle since you find pleasure in buying things, then you buy more. If you can stop buying then it stops this endless cycle.
Photo by Sylvar