Buy Nothing Day

“Why should South African youth care about consumerism?”

“With the rise of consumerism, our global society has become increasingly focused on consuming goods and services, as a means to feel good about ourselves and to drive the economies of the world”, Emerald, N. (2004). What this entails is that consumerism is the act of acquiring things at a high rate to satisfy ones thirst for attaining a large amount of possessions. Why do I think the South African youth should care about consumerism? Because we need to inform and teach each other about the long term effects of mass consumption upon ourselves, within our societies and within the environment.

As mentioned earlier, consumerism can be loosely defined as the impulsive act of acquiring goods to satisfy ones personal view of themselves with possessions they believe they need to feel better. The possibly most negative consequence of consumerism is affecting the environment through the noticeable amount of pollution we create. “As the demand for goods increases, the need to produce these goods also increases. This leads to more pollutant emissions, increased land-use and deforestation, and accelerated climate change,“Greentumble Editorial Team, (2016). This means that the environment cannot rejuvenate itself because we keep taking from it at a rapid and inconsiderate pace. It is no secret that these negative effects can be felt in South Africa because we have are experiencing climate change at an alarming rate.

The second most negative impact of consumerism can be seen through the lense of South Africa’s economic climate. People are now purchasing things they don’t need but believe will make for great pictures to be uploaded onto their various social media pages, with the intention of getting many views and likes.  This can be translated into our youth continuously attaining material things they don’t need in order to maintain or upgrade their online profiles. This results in the youth’s growing trend of single-use which does not make sense as the youth unemployment rate is now at a disturbing high. “The unemployment rate among young people aged 15–34 was 38,2%, implying that more than one in every three young people in the labour force did not have a job in the first quarter of 2018, Stats SA (2018)”. An important question we should ask ourselves is where does the youth get the financial means to quench this thirst of buying things in the name of posting a picture.

The topic of consumerism and the South African youth is most relevant right now as we are upon the season of irresponsible spending and consumption. Today, 23 November 2018, happens to be what is called “Black Friday”. This highly anticipated day can be loosely understood as the activity where consumers aggressively rush to different retailers, selling their products at unbelievably low costs. This bug has bitten most of our youth, naturally. We find that people buy things they don’t need all in the name of discounts and the misconception that they are saving their money. This is the very reason why South African youth should care about consumerism. This is the time to understand what the notion of consumerism is as well as the effects it has on many things and beings. The youth need to start practicing responsible spending and should be encouraged to reduce, reuse and recycle their possessions as much as they can.

As Wangari Mathaai once said, “There comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness . . . that time is now.”

Sincerely, concerned South African youth.
Thato Mokale.

Emerald, N. (2004). Consumerism, nature and the human spirit.
Greentumble Editorial Team. (2016). The negative effects of Consumerism.

Stats SA. (2018). Youth unemployment still high in Q1: 2018.