Conscious Consumerism

Our habit of over-purchasing trendy products negatively impacts our lives

An average American household can contain upward of hundreds of thousands of items, which can range from a desk to a book. Some of these items we own multiples of: six water bottles, twelve lip glosses, seven watches, five perfumes. We all just own a surplus of  “stuff.”

While consumerism’s power over  us isn’t anything new, in the past few years, especially after the pandemic and the surge in social media usage, it has secured an even more firm grasp on us. 

Influencers such as Alex Earle and some social media companies have targeted women specifically to buy products and pursue the trendy persona that they see celebrities and other women as. Whether it’s the “clean girl” or “it-girl”, there always seems to be an appealing aesthetic that a  majority of women want to achieve.

This leads to people buying certain items to fit into whatever is trendy, and then completely leaving it behind once a new trend starts. 

As well as negative social impacts, consumerism has been one of the main reasons our environment is depleting. Once we latch onto the new trends, more and more of our older items end up getting thrown away. This slowly increases the amount of rubbish in landfills and heightens the issues of pollution across the globe.

For example, fashion and beauty are forever changing. The outfits and beauty products from just three years ago are no longer in style. Sherpa jackets, chunky FILAS and scrunchies are all considered outdated. Nike Dunks, claw clips, cargo pants and Drunk Elephant skincare products are just some of the items considered to be trendy now.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing chunky FILAS or donning a sherpa jacket to school. However, many would define this fashion choice as being unstylish, “cheugy,” or outdated. 

Something as simple as water bottles are also another great example of the negative effects of following trends. Just a few years ago, it was extremely trendy to own a Hydro Flask. Now, due to hype from social media, Stanley cups are all the rage. 

In fact, some of my friends left their beloved Hydro Flasks behind to become Stanley cup users. But what happens to their old water bottle? Unless they give it away to someone else, it will most likely end up lying around in some cupboard collecting dust, which will more than likely be the fate of the viral Stanley Cup as well.   

Once I distanced myself from consumer culture and practiced conscious consumerism, I no longer felt the need to purchase these “viral” items. I instead look for ways to repurpose my older belongings and avoid buying items that I don’t see myself still enjoying in the next five years. I am now more aware of the things I already own that I could put into good use.

What it boils down to is this: it’s not having a Stanley cup, a certain brand of makeup, or a new gadget that an influencer has that will make us any cooler or feel any better about ourselves. Trends will come and go, and if you try to follow every single one of them, you will be caught in an endless cycle of buying every viral product and never being truly satisfied with what you have once the trend dies down.  

If we as a society stop this cycle of buying, we can avoid wastefulness and improve our happiness. We don’t need to own upwards of thousands of items to be satisfied.