Having committed to change my consumer behavior, I recently made a drastic change in my life. I began to bring reusable cups to my daily coffee outings. I continued to drive my aging hybrid car, rather than seek out a (long-desired) upgrade. When I had to buy goods, I sought out only locally made products, but most importantly, I stopped shopping for unnecessary items.
Not that I liked shopping, to begin with. In fact, it is commonly known that men hate to shop. Historically speaking, such aversions to shopping malls and supermarkets may have evolved in much earlier eras than we might imagine on a contemporary basis. While there is, of course, a certain gender-bias in the thought that consumer behavior can be reduced to the presence, or lack thereof, of a Y chromosome, perhaps it’s not a bad time – maybe it’s even a crucial one – to start using this stereotype to our social advantage.
In our modern-day Western realities, we are constantly barraged by a cornucopia of consumer choice. Where brick-and-mortar excursions used to be the norm, now one-click visits to digital retailers prevail. So many of our everyday desires can be purchased with so little thought, and even less resistance, that it may be hard to resist the temptation to buy, buy, buy.
Yet, if we begin to peel back the veil of consumer retail habits, an unsettling reality begins to emerge. Across industries like fashion and electronics, we see the toxic environmental effects wrought by producing cheap products. As we move towards more online shopping, we witness how the cost of convenience adds both carbon emissions and packaging waste to our ecological tab.
Many American citizens are already taking steps towards modifying their consumer behavior, determined to demonstrate a personal commitment to being the change one wants to see in the world. Where this move away from consumerism is encouraging, admittedly, making these changes usually represents the privilege of being able to choose. Further still, one may continue to ask whether one person’s actions really affect the overwhelming issue of consumption-based environmental destruction.
Even in the conscious-consumer world, vocal proponents of changing personal behaviors suggest that personal life changes offer little in the way of impacting environmental solutions. After all, one supposes, if enough people can’t or won’t get on board the conscious consumer train, it may not matter whether, metaphorically speaking, it reaches the station just in time.
Personally, in light of this past weekend, where many young citizens organized and demanded that we take the future of our environment seriously, I remain encouraged that personal actions, coupled with strong policy initiatives, are significant ways of addressing the real threats that our collective consumer behavior may present to coming generations.
We may feel like our life changes are not drastic enough to supplant the looming crisis we are constantly warned about, but at the very least, it suggests seriousness in addressing a societal problem, one that may be persuasive to those in our immediate zone of influence.
But if nothing else, as men, we can chalk up our unwillingness to tag along on suggested trips to the mall or to the market on age-old stereotype and a newfound social calling: we hate to shop and the environment is all the better for it.
What’s your take? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
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