Posts Tagged ‘hidden costs’


Now more than ever acquiring possessions, and lots of them, is convenient and cheap. We are bombarded with advertisements, on average about 3000 per day, telling us we need to buy new furniture, clothes, electronics, appliances, sports equipment, etc., which can be bought for incredibly low prices at megastores like Walmart, Costco or Marshalls, to name a few.

There are hidden costs though for purchasing things so cheaply.  The accessibility of such affordable items makes accumulating “stuff” so easy that we often end up with things we don’t need, that have to be managed, and thrown away into the landfill.  In order to keep prices down, manufacturers often employ underage workers who are poorly paid and work in unsafe conditions.  Quality is usually compromised and manufactured with planned obsolescence so that we are constantly replacing things, creating more waste for the landfill.

While consumerism is good for the economy, I advocate purchasing more responsibly.  Ask yourself some questions before you buy something. Where was the product manufactured?  Under what conditions?  How will my purchase impact the environment? Do I really need the high impulse item at the checkout counter? Am I better off spending more money for a better quality item so that it lasts longer? The average person makes 4 ½ pounds of garbage a day and America creates 30% of the world’s waste. With more thoughtful purchasing, we can improve this.

Annie Leonard, whose film The Story of Stuff, explains the problem with “stuff ” in a very clever 20 minute video at this link.