Explore That Claim That a Consumer Society Is Always a Throw Away Society

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Explore the claim that a consumer society is always a throw away society.

There is no doubt that our environment is becoming more polluted. An increase in the amount of waste people produce is one of the main causes for this issue. For example, households in the UK throw away approximately 30 million tonnes of rubbish a year. Our population is rising, therefore the amount of goods required to meet people’s demands has increased. Living standards have improved, as have the qualities of products and the choice of them thereof, all of which is facilitated by the increasing demands of a growing market. The subsequent waste that this increase in population, demand and consumerism creates provokes the question – is a consumer society always a throw away society?

Rising affluence is a key factor in today’s increase in waste and rubbish. In today’s society the majority of people are able to afford the higher standards of living and more luxurious items. Take a television for example; in the 1950’s televisions were regarded as a luxury. Those families that had a black and white television were regarded as wealthy or rich. However, skip to today’s society and everybody has a television and they are now seen as a necessity rather than a luxury item regardless of a families’ on individuals’ financial capacity. As well as the increase in households there has also been an advance in technology; we are now seeing plasma, HD or 3D televisions as the luxury item to be had in households (Making social lives, P. 109, 2010).

Due rising levels of affluence people are able to buy more products and replace them with new rather than paying for the old products to get fixed. In today’s society it has become normal to throw away broken items such as washing machines, dishwashers, DVD players, televisions or microwaves rather than getting them repaired. A lot of electrical items such as these are cheaper to buy brand new than it is to pay for them to get repaired.

Since the 1st department store opened in 1869, Bon Marche, fashion and clothes shopping was sold to customers as a luxury, however department stores were able to produce products for the less wealthy clientele as well. This was the beginning of mass produced items, which meant that the price was affordable for a wider range of the population. Clothes and accessories were being produced with new technology, which was able to produce these products a lot faster than if they were handmade. Department stores were also the central point in the movement of people expressing their individuality and personal character identities. Department stores had cracked it; seducing customers into buying what appeared to be luxury items produced at a low cost so a wider range of people were able to afford them (making social lives, P39, 2010).

If we skip forward a few years and look at today’s shipping society we see the same problem I spoke about earlier, everything is now mass-produced from outside the UK. Such products are exceptionally cheap to buy and, unfortunately, this is an extremely influential point in the facilitation of a throwaway society. A lot of families that are fortunate enough to go on holiday to a hot country abroad will find themselves buying specific items only appropriate for the holiday and then disposing them after one or two wears due to the low cost of the items. As well as throwing away clothes after holiday there are a large number of clothes thrown away due to an increase in society’s interest in fashion. Facilitated and accelerated by increased coverage by different media formats, demand for new fashion cycles from designers has emerged, for example, spring, summer, autumn, winter – all cycles that would not have existed at one point. Rather than people customising and adjusting clothes like they would have done years ago, old, ‘unfashionable’, clothes are thrown away to make way for newer, more fashionable, ones. Supermarkets produce one of the...
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