American Consumerism and the Global Environment
American Consumer Society
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What gives us Americans the drive to consume to such an extent?
We continue to consume primarliy because advetisements tell us to (rather than because we need to or want to). This constant consumption still leaves Americans largely unsatisfied, which has created what is almost an addiction. A car company comes out with a new model that has one, small, nearly insignificant new feature, and suddenly the model from the year before is completely un-desireable. The same goes for ipods, digital cameras, and nearly any other popular product.

Is consumerism in America truly that much more extensive than it is in other parts of the world? Even places like China?  Yes. On average, one American consumes as much energy as 2 Japanes, 6 Mexicans, 13 Chinese, 31 Indians, 128 Bangladeshis, 307 Tanzanians, or 370 Ethiopians.

Facts about american consumerism:

  • The average American uses 300 shopping bags worth of raw materials every week, an amount of food that weighs as much as a large car.
  • We would need the resources of 3 planets for everyone on Earth to live an “American” lifestyle.
  • People in the U.S. spend 3-4 times  the amount of time shopping than people in Europe.
  • Americans use 1/3 of the world's paper, 1/4 of the oil, 23% of the coal, 27% of the aluminum, and 19% of the copper.
  • 99% of the stuff people in North America buy is trashed within 6 months after purchase.
  • The average American office worker disposes of 100-200 pounds of office paper annually.
  • On average, Americans eat 815 billion calories of food each day -  roughly 200 billion more than needed and enough to feed 80 million people in other parts of the world.
  • Americans throw out 200,000 tons of edible food daily.
  • The average American buys 53 times as many products as someone in China.
  • Americans drive about as many miles as the rest of the world combined .

Yet despite these facts, Americans continue to use resources as if they are un-ending. We heed no warning and continue chopping down trees for strip malls and paving over land to make parking lots. Every day an estimated nine square miles of rural land are lost to development. And in the U.S. alone an area the size of Delaware is paved over annually. How is it that Americans are able to ignore the huge strain this puts on our environment?