Most Americans Live a Consumerist Lifestyle
What you buy impacts the world.
It is November! Our children have made it through the Halloween season (hopefully) without having eaten their weight in candy, and we are entering the peak of the holidays. Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and that means Black Friday and Cyber Monday are too. I am not above taking advantage of good deals, but as we hear every year, it seems like the holiday season in the U.S. tells a broader story of our deeply rooted drive to gather stuff.
Here are some stats:
During the weekend of Black Friday last year, 137 million Americans spent $655.8 billion. (https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-black-friday-3305710)
The average U.S. household contains 300,000 items. (http://articles.latimes.com/2014/mar/21/health/la-he-keeping-stuff-20140322)
Though the population of children in the U.S. makes up only 3.7% of all the children in the world, children in the U.S. own 47% of all the toys and children’s books. (http://articles.latimes.com/2014/mar/21/health/la-he-keeping-stuff-20140322)
The average U.S. household carrying consumer debt owes $16,883. Americans’ owe $784 billion in credit card debt. (https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/average-credit-card-debt-household/)
Though the average size of a house in the U.S. has doubled from 950 square feet in the 1950s to nearly 2500 square feet today (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5525283), one out of every 10 households rent a self storage unit (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/magazine/06self-storage-t.html?em&_r=0)
It seems like Thanksgiving and Christmas are seasons when American’s celebrate their abundance, and how better to do that than with food. According to the National Resources Defense Council, Americans throw away 40% of their food while 1 in 8 struggle to keep food in their home. (https://www.nrdc.org/issues/food-waste)
Stats never tell the whole story, but despite that, all of these statistics reflect something rather morbid: Americans live a consumerist lifestyle that perpetuates a waste that negatively impacts the our children and our environment. Choosing to embrace a simple lifestyle, whether or not you become truly minimalist, will not only impact your life because we the consumer run the markets. We tell businesses what to make and sell and advertise. Reducing our spending and becoming more intentional about what we own and use and eat will positively impact our society by changing what it produces.
As we enter into the holiday season and reflect on all that we are thankful for, consider how all the decisions you make impact our children. By deciding to live more simply and becoming more aware of your waste, you are changing the way our country operates and hopefully changing the life of a child who is truly in need of food and a toy.