Why are consumers made to feel responsible for environmental problems like waste, when it is almost entirely the fault of big business?

Large businesses have instilled in us the belief that we need to have more than we need of pretty much everything, and they actually design stuff not to last very long, so we have to keep buying and buying. This obviously leads to a lot of waste at the consumer level, but then there is industrial waste and environmental destruction that comes from producing so much crap that we don’t actually NEED in the first place. They actually create need through marketing! So why should the marketing, news, blogs, etc be telling people to “live green”, when the responsibility lies ultimately with big business?



  1. 0 Votes

    You make some very good points, and I don’t think that anyone has an answer that is completely correct and accurate. The average American creates 54 tons of trash every year, much of which comes from them buying too much of a product or throwing away out of date products.  You are right that producers intentionally create products so that they will eventually become useless, but this is a necessity for a thriving economy.  If every person only needed to buy one item in their life time to fulfill a function, there would be an incredible amount of unemployment because we wouldn’t have a demand for any products.  Yes, this would be great for the environment since we wouldn’t be using many resources, but it would come at a great cost to the people.  It is a trade off that is made to ensure that everyone (or at least almost everyone) can live comfortably.  That is the main reason for why it is necessary to produce all that excess, and, to me at least, it makes sense and is for the most part justifiable.  However, it should be the responsibility of major companies to make sure that their practices are as environmentally friendly as possible.  The only way that we will save the environment while also keeping with our lavish way of life that few people are willing to sacrifice is to work together, so everyone needs to do their part.  This means that consumers should do what they can in order to be environmentally responsible, and producers need to do the same.

  2. 0 Votes

    I agree with what you have said, but consumers also make choices of their own that effect how much waste is produced. The choice to buy bottled water is one example. While products are not made to last, we also have grown to expect them to remain in perfect condition or we trash them. Darning socks once took up many a mother’s evening. Today, I wonder how many kids know what the word to darn means. Corporations may be to blame for instilling this mentality, but it is the individual that will have to push for any change. Corporations are legally bound to act in the best interest of the company and its shareholders. It is the consumer that must react and change the status quo.

  3. 0 Votes

    Companies don’t change what’s working for them. As long as consumers are willing to buy cheap, disposable crap, companies will continue to produce it. It’s a vicious cycle. If we fight against this, though, and don’t buy things we don’t need, and insist on high quality over cheapness and convenience, companies will have to change to accommodate us.

  4. 0 Votes

    Here is an interesting summary on material objects production and consumption. 

  5. 0 Votes

    Who is “really at fault” when it comes to environmental issues is unclear and subjective. However, to answer the question, consumers must understand how they affect corporations and how much power they have collectively in pressuring corporations to assume environmental responsibility. It would be naive to blame any specific individuals, corporations/industries or even groups of individuals, corporations/industries for environmental degradation as everyone is a stakeholder; and therefore, everyone should care and be responsible.

    Finally, it is important to understand that corporations are driven by consumers despite consumers do not have direct control over a corporation or industry’s purchasing of materials/supplies and methods, consumers influence corporations focus, objectives and are responsible for placing demands on corporations and industries. Of course, such demands may or may not be environmentally-friendly.

    If consumers care about the environment and see that corporations have direct power over how it affects the environment, then consumers have the right and responsibility to pressure corporations and industries to be proactive in environmental sustainability.

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