Rising Consumerism at Christmas Time

Environmentalists argue that socio-cultural patterns of over consumption, within the new liberal economies of developed societies, present an impending ecological threat to the individual, social and global well-being.

Business Group Retail Ireland has said it expects Irish households to spend an average of €2,654 in shops this Christmas. Shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, contribute to this figure.

Biodiversity has been described as the ‘infrastructure’ that supports all life on Earth. These natural systems allow the functioning of our atmosphere, oceans, forests, landscapes and waterways. They are, simply, a prerequisite for our modern, prosperous human society to exist, and to continue to thrive. World Wildlife Fund

Over exploitation and ever-expanding agriculture are driven by spiralling human consumption. Over the past 50 years our Ecological Footprint – one measure of our consumption of natural resources – has increased by about 190%. Creating a more sustainable system will require major changes to production, supply and consumption activities. For this we need a detailed understanding of how these complex components link together, and the actors involved, from source to shelf.

As stated in The Guardian, “Nature contributes to human wellbeing culturally and spiritually, as well as through the critical production of food, clean water, and energy, and through regulating the Earth’s climate, pollution, pollination and floods. The Living Planet report clearly demonstrates that human activities are destroying nature at an unacceptable rate, threatening the wellbeing of current and future generations.”

Studies have shown that people who have grown up in an era of neoliberalism, with its celebration of self-interest and hyper-individualism, have themselves become more individualist and consumerist. We are now steeped in a culture where we are taught to think as consumers instead of citizens. During the Reagan/Thatcher era, Thatcher herself said “There is no such thing as society.” Their policies of privatisation, deregulation, tax cuts and free trade deals have allowed corporations to accumulate enormous profits and treat the atmosphere like a sewage dump.

As Martin Lukacs says, “so grow some carrots and jump on a bike: it will make you happier and healthier” and bring back this departed society.

Mary Kirrane rsj
EcoSpirituality Team/FWN (Future We Need) Ireland

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Photo by rawpixel obtained on Unsplash. Used with permission.