Based on the resource: Consumerism
The following statement is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi:
"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need but not for every man's greed."
Explain in your own words what Gandhi might have meant by this quotation. Does this statement still apply today?
The Story of Stuff - Consumption
Watch the video and then answer the questions which follow.
- How does consumption drive our economic system?
- How much has consumption grown in the last 50 years?
- What devices are used to convince us to buy more?
- According to the video, what suffers because of counsumerism. Do you agree? Why/why not?
- Why do we buy things? What does the economist Victor Lebow say we experience through our consumption of goods? (see video and Consumerism)
- Consider your own purchases. Why do you buy them and how do you feel about buying things? Which of Lebow's suggestions agree with your motivation for shopping?
spiritual satisfaction, ego satisfaction, social status, allow us to express ourselves and show how we want to be identified
- Why did consumerism explode after WWII?
- Have consumers' attitudes to the consumer society changed since the 50s and 60s? In what ways?
- An old proverb goes like this: If you own more than 7 things, the things own you. Do you agree?
Make notes on the two tasks below and then interview a fellow student to find out about her/his shopping habits.
- Consider your latest purchases and your reasons for buying them. What did you buy and why? Was it because:
- it was to replace an old/broken item
- it was to replace a usable item you already had
- it was the latest version of something you already had
- you were tired of the one you had
- it was a new item which you did not have before
- of a different reason than those above
- What influences you most when you choose to buy one particular item rather than another (e.g. advertising, friends, cost, availability, etc.)?
- What is done today to protect and preserve natural areas?
- What is green technology?
Make a presentation on one of the following:
- an anti-consumerism/protest group
- the benefits of shopping
- globalisation advantages and disadvantages
- the income gap and its consequences
- consumerism and its effect on the environment
In groups debate the issue of consumerism and its effects. The participants should represent:
- a director of a multinational company with thousands of employees
- a politician
- a representative of an anti-consumerism organisation
- a young person who will be living and working in 2030
- a chairman who leads the debate
Each participant should prepare a list of points which they would like to make in the debate and also one question for each of the other participants. Hand out the questions in advance and each person prepares their answers.
The chairman should prepare one extra question for each participant. He/she directs the debate and may use the questions to keep the debate going.
- Write an essay where you discuss whether small individual protests such as The Compact can have an influence on the negative effects of consumerism. Some points to consider: the types of protest groups, their approach to the problems, your participation, etc. Choose an appropriate title for your essay.
- Write an essay where you argue for our consumer economy. Consider: the benefits (individual and society), future outlook, how to deal with the negative effects, etc. Try to convince your reader by using rhetorical devices . Choose an appropriate title.
- Write an essay where you argue against our consumer economy. Consider the disadvantages (individual and society), future outlook, how to deal with the negative effects, etc. Try to convince your reader by using rhetorical devices. Choose an appropriate title.
What are the policies of the main political parties in the USA and the UK with respect to the consumer economy and its effects. You could start with the following links to the parties' websites, then check for any recent political activities around the issue.