Shopping sprees stamp out the planet

If everyone lived like western consumers, we would need five planets to support us, according to a report by TheWorldCounts. The number of consumers in the world has been growing exponentially. In 2017, the consumer class was at an estimated 3.5 billion, and that number is expected to grow to a whopping 5.6 billion by 2030.

Consumerism is defined as the protection or promotion of the interests of consumers, according to, and it has contributed to a multitude of problems regarding the environment. According to, 70% of the Earth’s natural resources are being overused as a result of consumerism.

Christopher Flavin, president of environmental research organization Worldwatch Institute, addresses the devastating toll consumerism has on Earth’s water supplies, natural resources and ecosystems. He believes that the plethora of disposable cameras, plastic garbage bags and other cheaply manufactured goods lead to a “throw away” mentality.

“This unprecedented consumer appetite is undermining the natural systems we all depend on, and making it even harder for the world’s poor to meet their basic needs,” Flavin said.

One major contributor to consumerism today is fast fashion, which is the mass production of the latest fashion trends that is remarkably inexpensive.

The constant mass production of clothing has led to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, as fashion production comprises 10% of global carbon emissions, according to

Greenhouse gas emissions from the industry primarily come from burning fossil fuels for energy, as well as from chemical reactions necessary to produce goods from raw materials, as reported by

Fast fashion is made possible by mass production taking place in factories, which is easily linked to global warming. According to, factories’ gas emissions make up 23% of direct carbon emissions from U.S. manufacturing.

Junior Stella Anderson of Rumson is worried that consumerism trends like fast fashion discourage eco-friendly and mindful spending.

“People have gotten the idea that mass waste is normal and acceptable,” Anderson said. “The concept of buying new clothes just to wear once or twice before throwing it away tells consumers that it’s good to buy, even when it’s wasteful and damages the environment.”

One solution to help ease this dark cycle of consumerism and fast fashion is recycling the clothes that are no longer wanted instead of throwing them away. This prevents clothes from ending up in landfills, helps conserve energy and reduces carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

Many clothing brands have also shifted to manufacturing some of their products with recycled clothes that would’ve been thrown out. Madewell, for example, accepts what they call “pre-loved jeans” and will even pay $20 for a donation.

Consumerism is on the rise, and if fast fashion brands continue to mass-produce clothes and throw out the extra garments, the ecosystem will take a dark turn. However, using sustainable, recycled materials may prove to protect the environment from further damage and hold on to the Earth’s limited resources.