The Destructive Effects of Overbuying in the Modern Society

mars 8, 2021, 2:30 e m

Overbuying in society has increased drastically over the years, with the increase of new technologies, and new ways to manufacture products. This has led to an increase in air pollution, wastage of natural resources, and the release of fossil fuels/pollutants. The high demand for products has resulted in exponential growth of the manufacturing industry. Demand for quantity puts companies under great pressure to perform, worsening the working environments for employees. It also leads to a lot of waste, which increases the number of landfills. The chemicals released when manufacturing products, as well as the growing amount of trash, is dangerous both for wildlife and people’s health. Overbuying affects not only people living near factories and landfills but also consumers. Buying too many things can become an endless cycle of economic hardships that oftentimes doesn’t provide much meaning to your life. Product manufacturing and selling might be a source of economic growth, however, as a consumer, you are contributing to environmental destruction. There are possible solutions, though, and we want to
inform you about them.

Cyber Monday turns violent. [Daily Times]

The increase of overbuying over the years has had a major impact on our environment. The fashion industry, for example, produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply. Similarly, land use – more specifically animal agriculture – is responsible for upwards of 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions [Summary for Policymakers, 9]. This is the second-largest producer of greenhouse-gases after the burning of fossil fuels [Naturvårdsverket]! Furthermore, mass-manufacturing of products in this manner requires a lot of energy. This is supplied by, as previously stated, burning fossil fuels, once again linking this industry to the troubling phenomenon of global warming.

Overbuying takes a toll on wildlife as well. Many animals and plants are at a higher risk of becoming extinct due to the toxic chemicals used to dye clothing that are continuously dumped into rivers, lakes, oceans, and many other water resources.
This is increasingly prominent in China. These poisonous chemicals will eventually result in wildlife being intoxicated and dying. [Jones, 5] Fast fashion has also impacted animals directly, with expensive purses and leather made from animal skin and fur, even though there are hundreds of artificial textures that can replace animals. Some people even purposely kill certain animals to take one or a few parts of their body and leave out the rest. Certain products require the use of materials from wood, meaning manufacturers must cut down many trees to supply the high demand. This does not only affect the forests, but also the animals who lived there. High demand for products also means the expanding of factory networks which means that companies are cutting down more forest. As a result, even more animals lose their homes.

A river full of toxic chemicals thrown by textile
Factories [Cruz-Sy, 1]

Overbuying does not only damage wildlife and our environment, but also negatively impacts human health and lifestyle. Studies have shown that overbuying influences one thing: the wanting of more. Dr. Taylor’s article on “The problem with wanting”, Dr. Steve Taylor explains that desire leads to frustration and unhappiness, where patients feel like there is something missing in their lives, and attempt to buy their way to it. But according to Psychologists, people just need balance and happiness; a sense of satisfaction that money cannot buy. Research shows that appreciating what you have makes you far happier than longing for more and buying [Taylor, 10]. Thousands of people dream of a higher salary, better status, bigger houses, etc. making them forget what is really important. On top of this, the chemicals used for the dying process have resulted in food poisoning due to the water and the soil used in agriculture being contaminated. But even as you take the risk yourself by buying an extra pair of jeans, you are also endangering hundreds of underpaid workers. Take China, for example, the largest producer of jeans in the world, where employees work for prolonged hours during the night, scrubbing jeans to form abrasions. This process releases chemicals into the air, which can irritate the employees’ lungs. Most of the workers are underpaid, being given 1US$ for every 10 hours of work [Luz, 6] and paid an average of 85.5% less than an English employee [Euronews, 3]. Child labor has also increased, making children work in harsh conditions where they get continuously threatened by older employees [Luz, 6]. Therefore, before buying any type of
clothing, think about what the workers had to go through to manufacture only that particular garment and whether you really need it.

A Chinese jeans-factory worker taking a break after scrubbing Jeans in the night, [Luz, 6]

All in all, the situation in which the world is in because of mass-production industries is unacceptable. From the effects on our climate to wildlife, and the health effects on factory employees, over manufacturing and buying of products must be reduced. We live in a world that many take for granted, and many people deny the core of this issue when speaking about the destruction of our Earth. Saying that the situation of overbuying is not our fault, but that overpopulation is what makes humans consume so much, is wrong. According to Danny Schleien, people should think about what they consume rather than scolding others who have many children. The truth is that five poor children consume far less than one wealthy spoiled child [Schleien, 8]. This means that the only way to stop the destruction of our planet is by balancing our

There are many different solutions such as donation, thrifting, buying less, and reusing. But, one of the biggest solutions with the largest impact is knowing where you buy from. Buying from places such as China, Vietnam and Bangladesh is not the best option because the materials they use are not as environmentally friendly and most of the time, companies take advantage of the workers. Instead, try buying products from places where guidelines are stricter. Also, think about avoiding fast fashion stores (for example H&M, Zara, etc) as they tend to be unsustainable. Another solution is to think about the materials you are using. Some sustainable materials to use are: recycled materials (recycled polyester, recycled cotton), plant-based materials (organic cotton, linen), animal-based (silk, responsible wool), and semi-synthetic materials (lyocell, pineapple fiber). Some materials to avoid are cotton, wool, leather, cashmere, etc. When using sustainable materials, it saves water, energy and minimizes landfills [Sustain Your Lifestyle, 9]. According to Kimberly Nicholas, an expert on environmental consumption at Lunds University, reducing your purchases to only your essential needs is the only solution to this worldwide problem
[Nicholas, 7].

Works Cited
[1] Cruz-Sy, Gigie. Greenpeace.
[2] Emily. “Does Fast Fashion Care About Wildlife?”. Zola Amour, February 27th 2019, on-care-about-wildlife, Accessed January 27th 2021.
[3] Euronews. “Fashion Victims: Bulgaria’s textile workers on the poverty line”. Euronews, February 13th 2019, n-textile-workers-in-bulgaria-demand-eu-wideminimum-wage, Accessed January 27th 2021.
[4] IPCC. 2014: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
[5] Jones, Lucy. “5 Fashion Materials You Didn’t Realise Were Bad For Wildlife”. BBC, February 15th 2019, -materials-you-didnt-realise-were-bad-for-wildlife, Accessed January 27th 2021.
[6] Luz, Claudio. “Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry”. PMC, U.S National Library of Medicine, September 2007, 1964887/, Accessed January 27th 2021
[7] Nicholas, Kimberly. “Interview On Overbuying”. January 27th 2021.
[8] Schleien, Danny. “Overconsumption is the problem, not Overpopulation”. Climate Conscious, November 13th 2020, umption-is-the-problem-not-overpopulation-76771f8bac74, Accessed February 3rd 2021.
[9] Sustain Your Lifestyle. “Fashion’s Environmental Impact”. Sustain Your Lifestyle, 2017,, Accessed January 27th 2021
[10] Taylor, Steve. “The Problem With Wanting”. Psychology Today, July 28th 2015, he-darkness/201507/the-problem-wanting,
Accessed January 27th 2021.