Consumerism refers to the consumption of resources by the people. While early human society used to consume much less resources, with the dawn of the industrial area, consumerism has shown an exponential rise.
It has been related both to the increase in our demands due to change in the life style. Earlier we used to live a simple life and used to have fewer wants. In the modern society our needs have multiplied and so consumerism of resources has also multiplied. We have to face a number of interconnected
environmental and resource problems.
In developing countries, population size and the resulting degradation of renewable resources tend to be the key factors in total environmental impact. In such countries per capita resource use is low. But in development countries, high rate of per capita resources use and the resulting high level of pollution and environmental degradation per person usually are the key factors determining overall environmental impact. For
example the average U.S. Citizen consumes about 35 times as much as average citizen of India and 100 times as much as the average person is the world’s poorest countries.
Thus poor parents in a developing country would need 70-200 children to have the same lifetime resource consumption as 2 children in a typical U.S. family. Two types of conditions of population and consumerism exist:
(i) People over-population:
It occurs when there are more people than available supplies of food, water and important resources in the area. Excessive population pressure causes degradation of the limited resources, and there is absolute poverty, undernourishment and premature deaths. This occurs in less developed countries (LDCs). Here due to large number of people, adequate resources are not available for all. So there is less per capita consumption although overall consumption is high.
(ii) Consumption over-population:
This occurs in the more developed countries (MDCs). Here the population size is smaller while resources are in abundance and due to luxurious life-style per capita consumption of resources is very high. More the consumption of resources more is the waste generation and greater is the degradation of the environment.
1. The concept can be explained by using the model of Paul Ehrlich and John Hodlren (1972).
2. In LDCs, number of people is very high, but per capita use of resources and waste generated are less.
3. In MDC’s, number of people is low, but per capita use of resources and wastes generated are very high.
4. The overall environmental impact of these two types of consumerism may be the same or even greater in case of MDC’s.
5. Thus consumerism varies with the country and USA is known for maximum consumerism. The throw-away attitude and luxurious life-sty le of the west countries results in very high resource use as compared to less developed countries. With every unit of energy, mineral or any resource used there is waste generation and pollution in the environment.