Type: Exploratory
Pages: 4 | Words: 1068
Reading Time: 5 Minutes

American culture is quite often referred to as a culture of consumerism which is based on people having an increased demand for goods. It is a part of the lifestyle that people wish to consume more and more without taking care about the environment or considering nonrenewable resources. The scale of the problem is very high that leads to exhausting of all available resources becoming a global issue. Thus, the main aim of this paper is to provide a critical response to the article “Consumerism Is ‘Eating the Future’” written by Andy Coghlan that highlights one of the most important issues of the American culture.

Critical Response

The current state of the environment has major issues connected to global warming and an extreme increase of the population. Many people believe that there is nothing they can do to prevent ecological crisis, although the author argues that human nature is the main cause of it. Therefore, in order to change the tendency, people simply have to change their way of living.

The author highlights the similarity in the approach of using up all the available resources and expanding in every way possible by comparing the humanity to very primitive bacterial organisms. The point of the comparison is to make a prediction about the future of the consumerism approach for humankind, which would possibly be similar to bacteria, which end up dying in their own waste with no more nutrients available. However, even though humans are compared to bacterial culture due to acting exactly like other living creatures by using resources and spreading throughout all available habitat, the researcher claims that people do it in a more severe and thoughtless way.

Moreover, Coghlan provides other examples of the persons being assimilated with some biological phenomena. Hence, an epidemiologist Warren Hern suggested that the growth of cities is similar to the way cancer spreads in an organism. A sharp increase of the population over the last 100 years is compared to the accelerated spread of cancer during the same period. Both tendencies are predicted to have terrible consequences such as global catastrophe and “death” of the Earth by 2025. Hern argues that people will pollute themselves out of existence with such an approach to using up finite natural resources.

Nowadays, the human race is focused on economic growth above everything else. People strive to survive, have dominating rights, and be able to control the world. Exploiting natural resources has become an integral factor that supports the functionality of every economy. The demand for resources has intensified with a reorganization of the economy in the USA after the Second World War when the amount of factories operating in the military industry has significantly decreased. The revival of the economy was based on the new trend of promoting wealth as the main purpose of living. The society was encouraged to generate and demonstrate wealth, turn consuming and buying goods into rituals, which defined their social status and personal image. Provoking people’s desire to buy and replace goods as often as possible was the main idea for increasing the productivity and prosperity of the economy.

Furthermore, the author demonstrates how the new culture of consuming was trying to make people feel insecure that stimulated to increase the amount of possessions they have in order to feel socially equal and worthy. The new consuming culture resulted in prosperous countries using up resources in the way that poor states did not have enough for satisfying their minimum demand. The tendency is supported by the ecological footprint analysis that compares the consumption patterns of different countries.

Coghlan provides recent statistics that illustrates a 30-% overconsumption of the sustainable natural resources. Amongst the countries that exceed their bio-capacities, the USA consumes the most, exceeding an average rate by approximately four times per capita. It is necessary to reduce the level of consumption in the USA by 80% in order to be ecologically sustainable and balance the level of consumption in rich and poor countries.

The author highlights the necessity of taking serious actions to decrease consumption and prevent climate change and other negative ecological tendencies. First of all, it is required to create a world government to maintain fair and equitable managing of physical resources. Additionally, Coghlan supports the idea of global justice that must be based on wealth redistribution and everyone living by means of nature.

One of the ways of making people conscious about the environmental issues is seen by the author through decreasing the desire to acquire with the help of advertising. It has to be focused on creating a new culture of being ashamed of over-consuming. However, advertising that effectively worked in convincing people to consume might be rather challenging to apply for the reverse action due to a huge power of industry.

Paraphrasing Quotations

“Yet the consumer spree carries on regardless, and few of us are aware that we’re still willing slaves to a completely artificial injunction to consume, and to define ourselves by what we consume”. Thus, people continue over-consuming and demanding more and more goods, which helps them to support their social status and self-image, not realizing that this desire has been imposed at them artificially. With this phrase, the writer asserts that the culture of consumerism was created artificially in order to control the desires and lifestyles of the humanity. It was implemented in such an efficient way that people still believe it was their choice to consume as much as they do. The majority of people do not realize that they have become slaves of the consumerism trend imposed at the society.

“People think: ‘It won’t happen to me, or be in my lifetime, or be that bad, so what’s the point of change’”. Hence, persons believe that changing the current way of life is not needed since ecological issues are not going to reveal very soon or affect their lives in a severe way. This phrase demonstrates a common approach to solving a problem by avoiding it. People do not see the threat of using up non-renewable resources until they witness the real consequences. Moreover, they are not concerned with well-being of their posterity. 


Consequently, the article provides valuable information and statistics regarding the threatening tendencies of consumerism for the society. The author clearly demonstrates his position supporting the necessity of decreasing the consumption rates, especially in developed countries such as the USA, and taking global actions in order to improve the ecological situation on the planet and assure its sustainability.

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