Either old habits die hard, or the planet dies first

Illustration by Christian Ayala

People love buying new things on a daily basis. It’s simply ingrained in American DNA. There is a reason the phrase “retail therapy” exists.

The things people buy are often packaged in multiple layers of plastic or paper. The money spent on these products fund multimillion dollar corporations that rely on copious amounts of fossil fuels to produce harmful pollutant products.

Contrary to what society wants to believe, even purchasing items like metal straws or switching to a Tesla to clear a guilty conscious after decades of contributing to the environmentally detrimental consumerism cycle, does not actually help anything in the long run.

Reusable straws are made in giant factories that operate on fossil fuels, and Tesla has been under fire for many years for using fossil fuels in the creation of their marketable “green” cars.

Consumerism is the biggest environmental threat that this planet currently faces. However, consumerism is the only type of culture this country has ever lived and breathed.

American society runs on consumerism because of capitalism, which exists in every aspect of life because it’s the backbone of having a free market and democracy.

“Capitalism” and “America” are synonymous.

However, it’s extremely unrealistic to think that the American consumer would ever denounce these societal norms, let alone the capitalist system that holds the country’s government infrastructure together. The chances are close to none.

It seems impossible to imagine an American society without capitalism.

This is just one of the reasons why the environment will fall to consumerism inevitably — if it hasn’t already.

Capitalism has such a strong influence on consumer culture in being a normal aspect of everyday life. To say that the environment can only be saved if capitalism is abolished is a stretch, but there is some truth to it.

Yet this isn’t necessarily the fault of the consumer.

Career fields that are growing in popularity are more so to blame for perpetuating the cyclical nature of consumerism, such as social media marketing and advertising.

Buying useless material items and getting satisfaction from it comes second nature to humans. It’s as simple as breathing without thinking about it.

This will never change, but it will be the downfall of the air and water quality that impacts our everyday life on earth.

Funding large corporations, which contribute the most to worldwide pollution, is the reason why climate change is accelerating at an irreversible speed. The culture of consumerism is only worsened when people think they are being more green for buying reusable “green” products that aren’t actually environmentally friendly.

Sustainability is not going to come from innovative products that are marketed as “green” to make consumers feel some type of savior complex.

“Environmentally friendly” products are a contradiction as long as these products are being mass produced in factories.

The only saving grace that should be broadcast at the same level as the reusable straw revolution is advocating for society to stop buying so many material objects that are produced in factories.

Buying food locally at farmer’s markets along with purchasing clothes and household goods second hand is the only effectivesolution to combat funding terrible corporations while also fulfilling the satisfying need to keep die-hard consumer habits.