A really interesting article (see link below) on consumption and ’Why we buy what we buy”. Worth spreading further, as it give insights for each of us and the influences on our behaviour. The main takeaway points for me are:
|Consumerism was enabled by production technology -> mass production making items cheaply + advertising + consumer credit. Add in government spurred house building, roads, education, increased income and then household appliances and shopping as a leisure pursuit. It is a huge edifice and so complicated and enduring.|
|Advertisers do push the logic that the more things we buy the better it is for everyone – perpetuating the capitalist, growth centred economy.|
|But it is also influenced by societal factors. Consumption is driven by reference group (comparing ourselves with others) and in particular at work – also TV, social media, neighbours, friends – as this has hierarchies and exposes us to other income groups and lifestyles.|
|The study looked at income and wealth, and made some broad assumptions for culture, race and gender. Location and other contexts did not feature at all.|
|It rose before the recession and Covid – as an indicator, the number of items of clothing per person (US data) rose between 1991-2007 from 34 to 67. (To help the planet, buy few of good quality and wear them a lot).|
|It has flattened off but many people have money now waiting to be spent (we are going to see a burst of spending from some), while others have none.|
|In an unequal society this means those at the top and middle are consuming a lot, while those without are fighting to meet basic needs. In fact inequality drives consumption as we want to keep up with those we compare ourselves with.|
|Work patterns also drive consumption. Some people seek other ways – financial independence/retire early (FIRE), others seek work less/relax more/spend less (Downshifters). But job position also drives consumption, you spend up to your perceived job status – house, car, education, leisure, that lovely Miele.|
|We should talk about it in two parts. One is consuming differently, and the other is not consuming as much.|
So, volume and composition. To meet climate targets, we need to do both.
This is an item, with action/target, to include in my own personal doughnut.