Why We Need to Stop Engaging in Global Mass Consumerism

By Bronagh Loughlin

Our consumption has a huge impact on the health of our planet. If everyone in the world lived like Western consumers, we would require 5 planets to support us, according to The World Counts.  

While it is a positive point that people are able to enjoy the benefits of purchasing goods and services beyond their basic requirements, there is a big downside to our consumption. The negative effects of consumerism include the pollution and depletion of natural resources of the Earth.  

The way in which the consumer society is operating is not sustainable. Currently, we are overusing the Earth’s natural resources by more than 70 percent. While consumerism has its negative effects, what is considered worse for the planet is global mass consumerism.  

Global mass consumerism refers to individuals purchasing goods and services that can essentially come from anywhere in the world. It’s no secret to most of us that a majority of the food in our grocery stores and the products in clothing stores were not made in the country we are living in.  

In global mass consumerism, goods come from far away as opposed to coming from local suppliers. Consuming food that comes from far away means we do not know whether the food was grown sustainably and whether the farmer was paid a fair wage or not among many other things. These drawbacks tend to increase with value-added supply chains and processing.  

While a global food trade system is defended on a number of grounds, including combating malnutrition, reducing susceptibility to famine everywhere and increasing dietary diversity, it also glosses over the many problems such as, the trade is based on cheap fossil energy, there is an increasing demand for resource-intensive animal products globally and that we often import the same food we export and that so many people still go hungry each day on Earth.  

However, one positive thing that came out of the COVID-19 pandemic which closed so many stores, was the emphasis on supporting local. Consumers were encouraged and started making conscious decisions to support their local businesses and in turn started supporting their country’s economy instead of purchasing products from abroad.  

There are many reasons why buying local is not just beneficial but important. By purchasing goods and services that are produced locally, you support the economy in which you live. Additionally, from this, jobs are retained or created, the community gets revenue, cultures and families are supported and things grow and thrive.  

Additionally, by buying local, you know a bit more about the quality control; you are aware that certain goods have been produced in such a way that meets national and regional standards. When buying goods from outside of your country, it can be challenging to know the manufacturing processes and the potentially harmful chemicals and byproducts that are involved.  

Sourcing local goods reduces the transportation costs associated with your goods, it takes less petrol and therefore, puts fewer emissions into the air. Local products are also more likely to be fresh as opposed to those that have travelled long distances.  

Purchasing local goods also presents a special networking opportunity among businesses. Choosing to purchase from other businesses in your community can result in discounts, real connections and the possibility of collaborating and supporting each other’s brands.  

Global mass consumerism results in poor impacts on our planet which is why we need to make the change in how we consume. By opting for local consumption, we can reduce the impact, our buying is having, on the planet and support and help local businesses. It is vital that we make this change and start taking positive steps towards buying locally


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