Black Friday. Cyber-Monday. Great Singapore Sales. 11.11 Singles sales. The list of sales-related events goes on. And it doesn’t matter where they originate from. These events are created by companies to encourage excessive consumption of services and goods. Companies put up lots of advertisement suggesting whatever products they sells are on limited-time offer, giving you this feeling that you won’t get such deal anymore. So you go and make that purchase, filling your shopping cart (digital or physical) with stuff as you spy more cheap products.
There is nothing wrong with getting the things you need that are on promotion or discount. Money, although renewable, is not infinite in a person’s life and not everyone earn the same amount. It’s often necessary to get something on the cheap so that you have the money to get something else that’s more important. Like maybe getting food for your family.
The main problem here is when you are not being intentional with what you bring into your life. You don’t question the purpose of a specific product or why you need it. You buy more things just because the marketing messages you see make you feel like you need those things. There’s no more intentionality when you let your feelings push you to buy just because they are on sale or you think you want it, rather than needing it.
You see, for every consumer goods we bring into our life, there’s always a cost associated with making them. Most of the time, the cost is in terms of what it does to the environment. Materials and resources needed to make those products could be acquired by companies who engaged in non-sustainable resource exploitation. In their drive to maximise profit, companies aren’t likely to be taking into account the full life cycle of the products. The cheapness of goods due to large-scale manufacturing capabilities with cheap labor from developing countries played a part in the creation of highly-disposable products and the rise of junk products: keychains, fridge magnets, tiny trinkets that you hang on your bags, etc.
And how do they get you to buy those junk products? They market them, make you feel like you need them to feel good. It’s just the nature of our modern free-market economy. When there’s demand, there’s supply. In this case, companies created the demand and they are good at that. They target your emotion centres.
People are emotional creatures. Intentionality takes a lot more effort. Therefore, it’s easy for someone to be influenced by those marketing messages. Buying will be the next logical action.
So the moment you let your emotion dictate what to buy, you will be hooked. It’s like taking drugs or smoke. Before you realise it, you will be demanding more. And companies will gladly supply. Now both parties are complicit in damaging the environment through reckless consumption and discarding of junk products. Bear in mind, most of these junk products aren’t fully recyclable and will go to the landfills, contributing to environment degradation.
Let’s not forget, there’s only one Earth.
So I implore you. If there’s something you need and someone you know can give you that something for free or on the cheap, get it from them instead of buying from companies. Chances are someone you know will have something they don’t want or need and vice versa. If you really have to buy something, question yourself the why before putting the item into your shopping cart.