Consumerism

 
A huge system of cultural assumptions and actively intrusive advertising is bombarding people with the message that they are not happy, healthy, whole and satisfied unless they buy, have, use, and consume the latest product.

 

 

The Challenge

 
The modern industrial economy functions only if consumers consume. It does not prioritize economic activity that adds to the well-being of people and ecosystems.

 
Study after study is showing that happiness and welfare are NOT linked to consumption. Of course if basic needs are not met people are not happy or well. But once the needs for food, shelter, health and education are met, happiness and well being are determined by our degree of social connectedness, not by how much “stuff” we have.

 
“Economic Man” has become the dominant view of human beings. But people are not fundamentally consumers in a market, we are most fundamentally social and spiritual beings who thrive in community with each other, and in communion with all of life.

 

“Earth provides enough to satisfy everyone’s need,
but not everyone’s greed.”
—Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

Solutions

Our individual actions are connected to the whole world.

 
We cast a powerful vote through where and how we direct our money. Consume wisely by researching companies that value people and the planet.

 
More people are turning away from the consumerist market, adopting less complex lifestyles. Sometimes referred to as “Voluntary Simplicity,” a growing number of people who have “made it” in the modern industrial world are now finding real satisfaction and happiness at a slower and simpler pace of life.

 
New economic models are being developed. Economic activity does not need to be driven by over-consumption. “Economy” literally means managing the household, not increasing GDP. Projects are underway to completely re-frame the discipline of economics to enhance sustainable well-being for all.

 
New measures of progress are being used. (See Pollution and Waste.)

 
Unrestrained consumption cannot buy happiness – and besides, it is killing our planet.

 
Transforming our relationship with money can liberate us to discover what really makes us happy and live in a way that produces well-being for ourselves, our communities and our world.

 

“What’s the good of having a nice house without a decent planet to put it on?”
—Henry David Thoreau

 

 

“We need to reallocate our money by taking money away
from the things we fear and move it towards what we love.”

—Lynne Twist

 

 

Julia Butterfly Hill speaks about happiness, consumerism, and voluntary simplicity.

 

More Resources

 
Voluntary Simplicity

 
The Enough Project

 
The Story of Stuff

 
Thank You Ocean

 
Slow Money

 
Institute for New Economic Thinking