Equality in Consumerism

During the video ‘ The Age of Stupid’ explaining the environmental and social impacts of global warming, the current issue of unequal consumerism was raised. This issue is currently a driving force of global warming as many developed countries have a greater responsibility for the rise in the current global temperatures compared to those who are less developed.

An increase in competing companies means there is an increase in competing products, all of which are advertised to show how they can make your life better, happier or easier. Consumers always strive for the newest or fastest version of their latest purchase, causing the turnover rate of products to increase and causing a greater cost to dispose of the old products. Although I feel like this is a good advancement for technology, I feel like people are now too needy for the next ‘big’ product to be released and don’t just purchase replacements because they are faulty. As you can see by the bubble map below, there is a direct between the wealth of a county and it’s purchasing of products.


Once a product has been purchased and used, it needs to be disposed. A study by T- Mobile in 2010, has shown that ‘ less then half of Britons recycle their electronic waste including mobile phones, kettles and toasters’. I also believe that people don’t realize the ease of recycling or reusing larger goods such as fridges, washing machines and electronic goods, which can be passed on to other people. Disposing of these objects is still seem as the easier option even though done if done incorrectly, can create vast amounts of CFC’s (chlorofluorocarbons) which are harmful to the environment.

A system put into place by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ‘ recognizes that developed countries are more responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions’  (UNFCCC, 2010) which then allowed the system to make a allowance ‘ legally binding limitations’ as to the amount of emission they can produce. The end goal is to reduce the amount of energy consumed by those larger countries, and to increase the amount consumed by less developed countries in order to advance their development. I think if countries stick to their limited quota, the system will be effective in reducing their impact on global warming at a steady rate.

For example, I found this calculator on the WWF website (http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/home/calculator) and if everyone in the world was to live like me, we would need 2.85 planets to cope with the demand.


I feel that these issues will affect the way in which some products are manufactured and designed in the future. Factory manufactured products may need to be re designed to reduce the energy needed to product them, to package and transport goods to the more demanding areas.  Even the location of productivity may need to change if work force because more expensive in countries with a growing economy. There has already been a large focus on getting designers to use sustainable materials and local materials to reduce the impact on the environment, and this will help to ensure that the sources of natural material are being replenished for future use.


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