Conscious Consumerism Is Not a Panacea
After facing plenty of significant problems relating to the negative impact of consumerism, the society began searching for some possible solutions. It was necessary to counteract growing focus on the material aspects of life, corrosive influences of advertising, and other complex issues. Eventually, people offered a new approach to buying goods, namely conscious consumerism, as a way to solve the above-mentioned problems. It was based on making conscious choices while utilizing services and consuming products. Additionally, it presupposed the consideration of not only the price and advertising but also the environmental aspects as well as the way the producing company treated workers. However, despite some obvious benefits of conscious consumerism, it is not a panacea to cure the negative impact of this approach, and, thus, people should not perceive it as the only effective method of coping with a range of environmental and societal problems.
Firstly, it is necessary to pay attention to probably the most extreme interpretation of conscious consumerism. For instance, some regard it as a new technique that marketers should actively use to promote goods and services in a society that has already established sustainability as one of its priorities. Critics claim that environmentally conscientious shopping has negligible effects, does not address wider issues relating to the creation of needs and capitalism, and has been co-opted by advertisers as a marketing technique. It may also be true that conscious consumerism is to a certain extent a new method for attracting customers attention to a particular kind of products. Although this approach not always produces positive results, in some situations it seems quite viable. For example, when a person enters a grocery department of a supermarket, they face a variety of labels claiming that the produce is organic and sustainably harvested, but, in fact, it is hardly possible to check the reliability of such statements on the spot. There are many organizations that should regulate the usage of such labels and control the quality of the produce. However, this system does not work properly even in the developing countries that pay much attention to these aspects. Therefore, in quite a significant number of cases, companies use appeals to conscious consumerism as a way to differentiate their goods from others and improve their image. In this light, conscious consumerism appears to be useless until companies start providing credible information concerning the methods of the production of their goods.
One of the basic ideas of conscious consumerism is that a person must buy less as in most situations, there is a discrepancy between their demands and amount of products they actually buy. Apparently, consumers purchase many goods under the impact of advertising and other commercial forces. However, at this particular point, people can face a very difficult dilemma. At the present stage of the social development, the encouragement to resort to conscious consumerism may also have certain negative impact on individual identity and self-evaluation. Currently, in the developed countries, people are so deeply involved in the system of consumerism that sudden changes in the behavior without some profound inner considerations may lead to psychological problems, stress, depression etc. In other words, it is not possible to promote conscious consumerism simply telling people that they should not buy so many things. Some experts explain that there are growing connections between consumerism and peoples identity. Beder argues that consumption is superseding the work ethics for many people as a motivator for work as a primary source of identity. As people tend to pay increasingly more attention to the significance of their lifestyle that is largely dependent on what they can afford to consume, they are likely to view their identity as reflection of their lifestyle, not their career achievements. Ho believes that consumerism has replaced work ethic altogether. As a result, it is possible to argue that conscious consumerism promoted without special psychological support and a variety of different measures may damage the contemporary system of identity formation without offering anything in return.
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There are some spheres where consumerism in the form it currently exists can be even beneficial. It is undoubtedly unfavorable in its classical commercial environmentt that simply persuades people to buy more and more. Nevertheless, some critics and scholars argue that, for instance, in the sphere of politics consumerism may bring significant benefits. Political consumerism alongside others provides an important opportunity for young citizens to develop civic competencies necessary for engagement in the formal political sphere. In fact, if leaving aside its negative impact, consumerism means increasing interest in something. Therefore, as young people have always been quite indifferent to politics, a certain degree of political consumerism may involve them into the practices of solving issues important for the whole society. Thus, when advertisers start presenting the interest in the social and political life of the country in the same manner as fashionable goods, promoting it on TV and mass media, it may be quite an effective way to attract people. However, if mistreated, this approach may also make people excessively obsessed with some political ideas, so even in those spheres where consumerism is not entirely bad, it requires proper management.
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Finally, conscious consumerism cannot work properly without other supportive measures. Again, encouragement to buy less will have no impact on people if they do not have any detailed information about the negative aspects of their purchasing choices. Thus, teachers and professors should raise the subject of conscious consumerism at schools, colleges, and other educational establishments. Moreover, to produce maximum effect, they should not present this concept as a panacea, but a part of a system that aims to make the society less materialistic and simultaneously improve its welfare. It is also necessary to understand that the introduction of conscious consumerism is a struggle that could lead to the unexpected repercussions. It may be effective in some cases, but it will never solve the initial problem. For instance, speaking about buying green products as one of the most important consumerism strategies, Lee says, Green products were of no consequence and that, instead, the entire system of capitalism should be overthrown in order to stem the damage already created by the corporate world. Defining the roots of the problems is crucial for finding their solution, and this idea should be applicable in all cases. To eliminate the negative consequences of consumerism, the modern society needs profound changes. However, the philosophy of conscious consumerism seems to lack power to make some difference.
All things considered, conscious consumerism is not a negative phenomenon in the realities of the modern obsession with buying goods. It promotes effective methods of resolving the problem of growing materialization of life. However, it cannot work properly in all situations. There are some spheres where consumerism may bring benefits. Abrupt refusal of consumerism may also create a vacuum as it has almost replaced the work ethics and helps people shape their identity. Moreover, even if it is a reliable strategy, but not a new trick of marketers and advertisers as some believe, it will be fully effective only as an integral part of a whole system of other measures that are necessary to help individuals become aware consumers. Conscious consumerism is not a panacea, and, therefore, people should pay more attention to dealing with the primary causes of these problems.