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By Oscar Chemiak

Consumerism. It all started with the Industrial Revolution in late 18th century England. It was a time marked by technical advances that allowed the development of faster and more effective ways to produce crops, tools and textiles. The world became a very different place. Lives got easier in some ways and harder in many others as people started working themselves to the bone and forgetting their responsibilities to family and the Earth.

Employment rates were high, as workers were needed to create manufactured goods, but with this came unsafe working conditions, abuse of employees and the use and misuse of children in the workforce.

The push to create more and more manufactured products created an endless cycle of despair:

  • Products were invented to make our lives easier.
  • To manufacture these products, more human power and natural resources were required.
  • Larger factories were built, placing a strain on the environment.
  • People were leaving home-based industries to work in the factories, and sacrificed their health and personal lives to acquire goods that they had never actually needed before.
  • Families were torn apart when members went off to work in the city factories, and the days were long and the work was dangerous.
  • Factory accidents were common and there was no social network to take care of those who were injured.

All this for the 'progress' that consumerism offered. I'm not suggesting we should go back to the days of no electricity. What I am suggesting is that we all take a look at our levels of consumerism and see if there are any adjustments that can be made.

Could we all do with one less piece of brand name clothing and still lead a happy life? Do we really need to hold down two jobs so we can buy that latest new 'gadget'? Think about it while we still have an environment to think about. It's worth it.

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