In America goods are cheap; and when things are cheap, we tend to use them up quickly. We tend to overlook some of the actual costs of our goods though. When we buy a pound of hamburger meat, we don’t realize that it took 10 pounds of grain to feed the cow for it to put on that one pound of muscle. And it takes another 10 times as much energy to grow the wheat itself. So we are ignorant of all the negative externalities — or “bad things caused by an action (like supporting factory farmers, which, I’ll admit, I am guilty of) with an unintended consequence for another party (i.e. people who would like to buy that wheat that was just fed to a cow, and the environment itself that must support the entire industry) that goes unpaid for (we aren’t asked to replant the wheat or make sure other countries have enough to eat first before we feed our cows to make them fat) — and these negative externalities are not noticed by the majority. And the law doesn’t support the concepts of sustainability, prioritization (“People before profits!”) and conservation ethics (yet). WE SHOULD BE PAYING MORE FOR GOODS (especially if they are costly to the environment or our own health); so, then, we will value them more, and have to use them more wisely. It’s just our lifestyle: As Jim Morrison put it, “It’s the American Way.” And I think he was referring to his excess consumption—he took in too much of life (well, really, too much drugs)—of booze; and in the end he paid the ultimate price for it. Excess leads to ruin. Why America is so involved with consuming goods runs to the very core of our existence. We are in the lap of luxury, and most have decided that they are going to enjoy themselves why they’re here… (Grateful Dead: “I’m going to hell in a bucket, but at least I’m enjoying the ride!”) … but it is up to us younger generations, now that we are informed and no longer ignorant of our vices (the damage we unwillingly, and unknowingly, have caused to this planet previously), to step up and say we are going to do things right! We are going to use less, treat every gift from this earth with reverence and respect, and no longer live lives of extravagance, waste, and needless abundance; and substitute in it’s place Peaceful Calm, Love, and Justice (for only when everyone is provided for, can we have all that, and we do have all that [enough for everyone to get by], just right now we’re not willing to share it [and that makes me sad]). But that’s why I say we change all that; because we can make the world a better place.
I think there is a simpler way to explain this – excess in terms of drugs and alcohol are forms of addiction, yes, and so can buying things but I think the problem in terms of over-consumption has more roots than just addiction. Companies are always trying to find the cheapest way of mass producing goods – this is of course good for the companies, but it’s not necessariy good for the consumers. Yes, they are able to buy more goods because they’re cheap, but because they are cheaply made, the product does not always last a long time. Ad campaigns keep consumers in a constant state of wanting to buy the next best thing, as they expect to have to replace whatever they have at some point or another. This is especially relevant to electronics, which are always in a state of being updated.
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