During the early 20th century, the word consumer was largely unknown. The average person participated in the general consumption of essential and nonessential goods. But the levels of shopping we see today were utterly unrealistic and unnecessary. During a time hardened by wars and depression, there was much focus on frugality and family. The mammoth levels of consumerism we see today are primarily attributed to the rise in consumption that dominated the United States after the second world war. Large-scale supermarkets and horizon-blocking department stores began sprouting up across the country. Simultaneously, the American Dream began to manifest within the public ideology, taking consumption levels from necessary to unnecessary.
Fast forward to 2022, and mass consumerism severely impacts the world’s social and economic climate. Most of the public is dependent on purchasing everything they can: a new phone, new clothing, the latest and most excellent laptop. A common theme persists here. And that is the great need for everything NEW. What makes things worse is that there is seldom an understanding of where these products are sourced or manufactured. People, animals, and the environment are being exploited worldwide to keep up with the ongoing demand of the world’s consumption.
However, as time goes on, the effects are becoming more and more apparent; a variety of innovative individuals, groups, and communities have started pushing the narrative and ideology of what is known as ‘ethical consumption. Ethical consumption is the conscious purchasing of products and services aligned with humanitarian beliefs and values. In other words, purchases that don’t exploit anyone or anything. Overconsumption is not only relevant to material goods; it manifests in food as well. Fast food establishments have streamlined the process of feeding their customers. It is deciding to overeat and consume a much easier process. This is not only negatively impacting the environment but the health and well-being of millions around the world as well. Below you will find a list of ways to replace unethical consumption with more ethical practices.
Ethical Clothing Consumption
Clothing is an essential product that we all need and can get behind. But how often do we need to purchase clothing, and does it need to be brand new? The fast fashion industry has a detrimental effect on the world as it constantly pushes the idea that we need something new every season and, in some cases, every week. However, the over-reliance on plastic fabric, and extortion of workers in less developed countries, pose severe ethical issues.
The primary way one can become more ethical in their consumption of clothing is through second-hand clothing. This can be broken down into two areas: the seller and the buyer. If you have clothing you are no longer using, ask yourself why and determine whether it can be repaired, donated, or sold. As a buyer, if you are looking to purchase something new, instead opt for second-hand clothing from friends, charity shops, or online marketplaces such as Vinted.
Ethical Food Consumption
In the past, when dinner time rolled around, choosing what you wanted to eat was a relatively simple endeavour; there was very little conscious thought into where the food came from or how it arrived at the supermarket. In recent years, there has been a surgency in developing awareness of the agricultural industry’s unethical practices and environmental impact.
Some of the best ways you can be more ethical in your consumption are by reducing the number of animal products and byproducts; this is not only healthier but helps with the preservation of animal life, as well as reducing the carbon footprint and emissions of the agricultural industry. While there is no ‘one diet’ for all, here at Waoh, we believe there is merit in being conscious of what you eat and where it originates. Another way to be more ethical with your food consumption is switching to organic foods. This is not only better for the environment but is also loaded with a variety of health-boosting properties; it’s a win-win situation!
Overconsumption is a severe issue that is persistent across all mediums of goods and services. Unfortunately, a large portion of the population purchases more than they need. The Waoh team is constantly trying to innovate and find ways of consuming that are aligned with our values and beliefs. We hope we brought some weight and have opened your eyes to a few alternatives in your consumption. Thanks for reading!