2010 State of the World: Transforming Cultures from Consumerism to Sustainability

Topics: Natural environment Pages: 11 (4037 words) Published: September 6, 2013

Student Name: Pilate Songsi| ID Number: U26884SEL35386|

Consumerism can be defined as the “buying and using of goods and services; the belief that it is good for a society or an individual person to buy and use a large quantity of goods and services” (Oxford advanced learners dictionary). Most of the environmental and social problems the world faces today can be considered as symptoms of a deeper general failing: a dominant cultural pattern that encourages living in ways that are often directly counter to the realities of a finite planet. This pattern that can be termed consumerism,’ has already spread to cultures around the world and has led to consumption levels that are vastly unsustainable. If these patterns continue to spreads further with no drastic efforts made to check them, there will be little possibility of solving climate change or other environmental problems that are poised to dramatically disrupt human civilization. It will therefore take a sustained, long-term effort to readdress the traditions, social movements and institutions that shape consumer cultures towards becoming cultures of sustainability. These institutions include schools, the media, businesses and governments. Bringing about a cultural shift that makes living sustainable as 'natural' as a consumer lifestyle is today will not only address urgent crises like climate change, it could also tackle other symptoms like extreme income inequity, obesity and social isolation that are not typically seen as environmental problems. Consumerism is about creating desires. Sustainability on the other hand can be defined as “involving the use of natural products and energy in a way that does not harm the environment” (Oxford advanced learners dictionary). It could also be defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment.  Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations. Though with these definitions, it is difficult to capture or appropriately define sustainability with a single definition. However, most definitions will include: * living within the limits of what the environment can provide * understanding the many interconnections between economy, society and the environment * The equal distribution of resources and opportunities by these The interconnection between economy, society and environment can be summarized as follows: Economic| Environmental| Social|

Economic development | Resource use e.g. water | Human and worker rights | Local industry participation | Waste generation | Paying appropriate wages | Jobs created | Material sourcing | Working conditions |

Corporate governance | Atmospheric pollution | Freedom of association | Public reporting | Toxic material disposal | Workforce diversity |

Culture can be said to be the way of life, beliefs, arts, and social organization of a particular country or group. Culture is not simply the arts, or values, or belief systems. It is not a distinct institution functioning along side economic or political systems. Rather, it can be said to constitute all of these elements—values, beliefs, customs, traditions, symbols, norms, and institutions that combine to create the overarching frames that shape how humans perceive reality. These perceptions differ from one culture to another. What is regarded as rude and improper in one culture might be perceived differently in another culture. Culture leads some people to believe that social roles are designated by birth, determines your posture when speaking with an elder for...
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