With roughly four weeks till Christmas, Americans cannot wait for stores to open their doors, for the holidays have become a time where our wallets perish and our debts inflate. Consumerism seems to rule our choices. Sales flourishing, spending in the air, it is the time of the year in which we buy more of what we do not need.
Ask yourself, Will I benefit from this product? Do I own something similar? It is pointless to buy something just because it is well priced. Do not buy it if it will just sit in the garage collecting dust or if it will only be used the once before being boxed up again. Spend your money wisely or do not spend it at all. Become a sensible shopper. Also know when something sounds too good to be true. If it is at an amazingly cheap price, there is probably a reason.
Companies encourage consumerism with their fancy, comical ads that glam up their product and proclaim how it is the next best thing. We as consumers always want the latest technologies, but have little ability to accept that what we have is enough In our society, there is a gap in our knowledge as to where our products come from and even how they are produced. What goes into the making of your iPad or cell phone? Do you even care as long as you have continuous Wi-Fi and apps at your fingertips?
Participation in holiday shopping is not a sin but should be approached with caution. Let us look at consumerism from an environmental perspective. The Environmental Protection Agency reported that nearly 4.6 billion kilograms of electronic waste ends up in US landfills annually. Chemicals from these electronic products sink into the soil and over time are released into the atmosphere, which in turn greatly affects the environment. Many products, further, are exported to foreign countries, and this increases the carbon emissions produced by transportation. We also need to account for how much carbon it took to get the product onto store shelves and into our homes. Not only are we disconnected from how our products are made, but we also do not realize what happens after we throw them away. This is how it is for anything we throw away.
To reduce such ill effects, find alternatives that properly dispose of old items. Donating allows someone to experience the product for its full lifespan. Even refurbishing old items allows you to continue using the product without buying another.
Ideally, not supporting consumerism this holiday season would be the best option. Who needs to freeze their bottom off to get a semi-decent deal on a new TV when yours at home functions just fine? Be comfortable living with what you have, because it is enough.
Kelly T. Knutson 15′ is an opinion columnist for the Concordia who focuses on environmental awareness / concerns in his entries. Originally from the upland prairies of Grand Forks, North Dakota, Kelly recently transplanted to Bemidji where he calls the conifer forests of Minnesota his home. Being ecologically literate and knowing his roots comes at high importance to Kelly. In his spare time he enjoys being immersed as well as fascinated by nature through hiking, birdwatching, mushroom foraging, camping etc. At Concordia he is involved with Sea – Student Environmental Alliance, Concordia Chapel Choir, Eco-Reps as the Coordinator, 2014 Sustainability Symposium planning committee, coordinating the 2014 HILT High Impact Leadership Trip for spring break, and a Lab TA for the Biology department.