By Janavi Gupta
Consumerism is one of the most pressing issues that we face today, and especially skyrockets during the holiday season. It is caused due to excessive gifting that we tend to do during this time. Consumerism has countless ill effects on earth, causing various forms of environmental pollution and degradation of not only the quality of natural resources but also exhaustion of natural resources in itself. This adversely affects the ecosystem and all the biotic as well as abiotic components within it. It is vital that we address this issue as soon as possible before it leads to the destruction of our planet.
Consumerism is the promotion of goods and products that encourages people to buy them. It is, however, in the recent years, on the rise because of the excessive gifting that all of us tend to do during the holiday season. Christmas and New Years are some of the most popular times of the year for people to exchange gifts and presents. However, have we ever thought about the kind of harm that our gifts can do to the environment? Increase in demand for particular goods eventually leads to increase in supply. This is accompanied with increased pollutant emissions, depletion of natural resources, land usage, deforestation and accelerated climate change. It has been found that over 80% of the world’s total natural resources are being used by just approximately 20% of the population.
This is leading to devastating effects on the planets water supplies, as more and more water stores are used up as a part of intensive farming procedures to produce the basic raw material for these products. Waste disposal is becoming a problem worldwide, and our oceans are slowly but surely becoming a giant waste disposal pit. It is estimated that over half of the plastic produced every year is single use – this means that once used, it is either thrown into landfill or finds its way into the water bodies. The consequences of all of our actions have a negative impact on the ecosystem as a whole. Plastics ingested by the biodiversity leads to their untimely death and severely affects not only that particular species but also other species depending on them, thereby causing an imbalance in the food chain. Contamination of soils makes them less fertile for growing crops thereby affecting man directly causing shortage of food supply. Fresh water, is less abundant as compared to saline water and degradation in its quality due to effluents such as heavy metals and detergents from industries makes it unsuitable to use. The air quality index in so many places has become so toxic and severe due to the release of several harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen di-sulphide etc. from factories.
These are just a few of the innumerable negative effects consumerism has on our environment. It is a never ending cycle and if not broken now, may eventually lead to the destruction of our planet due to exhaustion of natural resources. As the new generation, let us take out time for others and gift them with love affection, warmth, happiness and a small chunk of our time instead of material gifts. That way, we can wish both our loved ones, as well as the Earth- A very merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!