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Consumers and the companies who satisfy them are the main driving force that propels a thriving economy. But is consumerism the ideal way to live, or is it a way of life we have adopted and grown addicted to? Some may argue that consumerism—a concept that feeds itself—is actually an inferior and less satisfying way of life than how we lived historically. This essay will explore this notion by looking at what drives consumerism and how it compares to a simpler way of life.

A self-propelling economy

There is a cycle that drives a consumer-based economy. The more of a demand that exists for certain goods, the more people are needed to produce those goods. More workers result in more money for those workers. More money means a greater variety and quantity of goods must be produced to satisfy the demands of those who have the money. As you can see, this will then result in the cycle starting all over again. This capitalistic form of living is one that has worked for decades. The economy feeds itself—but what are the side effects?


Advertising is a necessary evil in keeping this system afloat. Companies advertise to create a desire for something (which starts off the above cycle) they don’t actually need. These corporations create markets for items, lifestyles, and concepts that claim to better our lives. However, whenever a desire is created in a consumer, that person must work harder to get the money in order to afford the item he or she desires. The person then must create a need for the item or service he or she is selling so that they have the money for what they want.

A different way of life

Before this system existed, a much simpler way of life was the norm. People owned farms and lived off the land. They traded their goods for goods from neighbouring farms and survived through that system. Services would typically surround a community like this. Doctors, builders, and farm workers would thrive on a system that was rooted in living off the land.

Many people who find themselves caught up in consumerism now wish that they could go back to a simpler way of living. However, we have grown so accustomed to consumerism that the obstacles involved in moving a few steps back seem too large. If this change is to be made, it must be gradual; and will likely take a few generations to accomplish.

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