[:en]Consumption. By a strange shift of meaning, this 19th-century word describing a serious and often fatal disease is the same word used now for a way of life focused on material goods. Is it time to bring back its negative, and often deadly, associations into our public discourse?
Consumption as reality and metaphor operates on many levels – personal, communal and economic. Most importantly, it causes profound consequences for the planet and its resources.
The anniversary of Earth Day provides a fitting occasion to think more broadly and deeply about what these patterns of consumption mean for us, our communities, and for planet Earth.
We all want stuff, but in our overdeveloped, fast-paced culture we seldom challenge ourselves to ask ourselves the one important question: how much is enough?
Of course, important distinctions have to be made between fundamental needs – water, food, clothing, shelter along with the financial security to achieve them – from those things that are not essential to our survival. These non-essentials may include owning large passenger vehicles, taking luxury vacations, or dining at four-star restaurants. Although many people desire these, do they foster human happiness?
Many studies indicate that such non-essentials rarely appear at the top of the list of what actually fosters human fulfillment or happiness. Research indicates that income levels above US$75,000 a year rarely result in remarkably increased levels of happiness.
Read more: The Conversation
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