Consumerism and its affect on the environment

Through Kelsey Timmerman’s “Where am I wearing”, there is a continual discussion about the effects that large companies have on the communities around them. In many instances, Timmerman addresses how these factories have a large ecological footprint on the region as well as worsen already poor living conditions. Following the increase consumption from the capitalist Western world, and then in turn increase in factory production, an ecological crisis as resulted.

Image result for chart about increase in consumerism
Above is a graph of the inequality of consumption worldwide in 2005. Here we see how the rich are affecting the poor through their consumption.

In our class discussion of “Imperial Mode of Living”, we discussed the implications of consumerism and its global effects. One key aspect of this article that I will use to address the side affects of consumerism discusses the ecological impact of globalization. The excerpt states, “Ecological crisis phenomena, like the erosion of biodiversity and climate change, have been caused by the spread of production and consumption patterns that fundamentally rely on unlimited access to resources, space, labour power and sinks, which implies a globally unequal appropriation of nature”. This quotation is especially important for this conversation because I believe it does an effective job of tying an issue laid out from the book, to a side affect of the globalization issue. Nowadays many companies are globalizing their supply chain by outsourcing their materials from countries outside of America. We now see an increase in production overseas which may cost company’s less in production fees, but is costing the environment much more. From this reading, the author additionally focuses on how ecolgoical issues have been caused by the production and consumption patterns. It is as if a chain of reactions has been set off due to consumerism. Ultimately, I believe these concepts tie into my book because “Where am I wearing” not only addresses factory conditions and individual products, but it is also a commentary about a much larger issue. Timmerman calls out the issue of consumerism playing a major role in this overseas production by his overall mission of this boo which is to comment on the various phases and places products travel before ever making it into the hands of the greedy consumer. “Imperial Mode of Living” then ties this conversation to an ecological issue and illustrates how the consumerism/ production lead to a discussion of the environment.

Above is a graph of the decrease in manufacturing establishments in the United States per an MSNBC report in 2015. The chart illustrates how we have seen a decrease in American manufacturing. If this is the case, where is all our production going? That’s right, overseas.
Image result for chart or article about increase in company outsourcing
Above is a table that comments on the placement of jobs in America compared to overseas. Here we see evidence of the increase of jobs being moved outside of America. In addition, this graphs fails to list other major companies that are now placing jobs overseas. This is also important to note that our overseas production is resulting in less jobs for America.

In another article I recently read, they discuss how globalization has resulted due to an increase in consumption, which forces an increase in production. This increase in production then in turn puts more stress on the environment. So although we may not see the direct result of our actions, we as consumers, are directly contributing to the ecological crisis. Thus, as a result of this increase production, more CO2 emissions and other chemicals are being released due to more factories and their increased production hours. This toxic release has severely affected the environment in many way and specifically the soils near these factories. Due to these toxins affecting the soil, they are taking their toll on the plants in this soil and then in turn affecting them as well. This toxic release is then what affects land resources the most. So as you can see there is a string of events that tie consumption to ecological crisis, but this article does an effective job of illustrating that point.

One city from the book I read that has experienced ecological effects by the increase in consumption is Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Within the book the author discusses the horrendous living conditions of some factory workers and how their living conditions got to be so poor. One thing Mr. Timmerman learns from these conversations is that many of these workers recognize and have witnessed the environmental affects taking place around them. For instance, Mr. Timmerman discusses with one man who now scavenges through garbage because he was a farmer, but now because of shorter growing seasons, he can not make enough money to support his family. This man is now forced to scavenge for food and anything worth money as a result of the increase in consumerism on the opposite side of the Earth. This was one of the most disturbing stories because we see how severe of an impact that results from our consumerism. In addition to this being a disturbing story, I believe it is a good representation of how we do not truly understand the ramifications of our actions and decisions and how they affect other nations.

Above is a video that discusses the living conditions that the people of Cambodia are forced to endure.

To connect this conversation to scripture, we will look at Psalm 8 and its discussion of how the Lord’s name is in all of the Earth. This is proven when the Psalm reads, ” Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”. In this excerpt, the author is glorifying God by his creation of the Earth and calling Him to be apart of it. In turn, this means that as we are tarnishing and breaking down the Earth through consumerism, we are breaking down Christ and His creation. I believe these verses are a reminder of who the creator is, and how our actions are affecting more than just we realize. I think Christians take for granted how crucial it is for us to take care of the Earth that God created. This is a command we are to follow and something we need to be more conscientious of. I think as consumers, we can work towards recycling, and using less products to better our environment. Then as a result of these decisions, we can closer live the life that we are called to.

Overall, this connection between consumerism and the environment is one we need to be taking seriously. Yes there are a few connections you must make before directly connecting consumerism and the environment, but we need to stop this problem at its source. We can not continue to destroy communities as a result of our consumerist nature.

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