materialism in the form of important, personal objects
Illustration by Shannon Czerpak, University of the Arts

Materialism Has Its Pros and Cons

The amount of items we buy and consume can have positive and negative impacts on our lives and our world.

Thoughts x
materialism in the form of important, personal objects
Illustration by Shannon Czerpak, University of the Arts

The amount of items we buy and consume can have positive and negative impacts on our lives and our world.

Materialism in America is very common these days. Consuming goods is something that every human being does, but the lifestyle choices we make can affect the amount we consume as individuals. Some people argue that the opposite of minimalism is maximalism, but really, the opposite of minimalism could also be materialism. When someone is a minimalist, they try hard not to consume as much and they try to own fewer things. If someone is materialistic, they probably own more than what they actually need. There are many pros and cons to materialism that I will outline in this article.

A pro of materialism is that it drives the global economy. If material goods weren’t being produced or just stopped being produced altogether, we’d have no economy. If the world economy didn’t exist, everything would fall apart because economies are essential to holding societies and cultures together. Economies are central to the government in countries around the world. Also, if we had no economy, then our money would disappear and we wouldn’t have anything to spend our money on, which is another reason why materialism is important in society. Without an economy, everything would just collapse.

Another pro of materialism is that it allows an individual to pursue their passions in the things that they love. Let’s say you like to knit or crochet. You need yarn to knit or crochet, and once you’re done with a particular project, you’ll need to buy more yarn to start a new one. If an individual is into fashion, they will have to learn how to sew and buy fabrics to create a garment.

Or, if someone is into fashion but isn’t interested in making their own clothes, they can buy clothes from a store. It’s easy to view or judge people who are interested in fashion as shallow because it may seem like they’re constantly buying clothing just for the sake of it, but really that person is following their true passion. It’s also important to remember that we can do good and give back besides making money and buying new clothes. One way to do this is by donating old clothes or clothes that you don’t think you’ll wear anymore. If you’re the one making and selling the clothes, another way to give back is to donate a portion of the money you made from those clothes to a charity or to someone you know who needs help financially.

One last good thing about materialism is that it can bring people together. Sacred objects aren’t just shown in the movies and can actually exist in real life. Any object can be sacred, and it doesn’t have to be related to any religious idea. If someone is attached to an item that’s important to them, and it comforts them, that’s a good thing. Also, when certain objects, such as musical instruments, bring us together, we connect with one another on a deeper level, and we can improve our relationships with each other. Or if someone buys a souvenir while traveling to another country, that souvenir has a purpose: to bring back memories of the time spent exploring a foreign country. Objects can enhance our lives by adding meaning to them if they are used correctly and purchased for the right reasons.

Although materialism has its benefits, it also has its pitfalls. One negative consequence of materialism is spending too much money. Americans waste their money on things they don’t need, want or love. Someone I knew bought a pink sweatshirt and the only reason she bought it was because she thought it would make her happy. According to her, that didn’t end up being the case.

The pink sweatshirt bought on Amazon for under $20 didn’t uplift her, change her mood or improve her life in any way. Even though $20 isn’t much, little amounts of money can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you spend that amount of money constantly. When considering whether or not to buy something, we must ask ourselves, do we really love this item, or do we just like it? If you leave the store without buying it, will you have regrets? Chances are, you may like something or think it’s fine, but you don’t truly love it. If that’s the case, it’s better to leave that item on the shelf or that piece of clothing on the rack.

Another downside of materialism is that it isn’t necessarily good for the environment. People have to understand that on this planet, we have a limited amount of resources. We don’t have an infinite amount of resources on Earth, and we have to be careful about what we consume. If we buy something and we end up not using the product, that is a complete waste of money and resources.

There have been so many instances where the things we only use once or wear once end up in landfills or large garbage patches that float around in our oceans. We have to respect the environment. When we’re buying and consuming goods, we must think about what sustainability really means. Although it may not seem that important when you purchase an item, its production, use and disposal directly impact the environment and vulnerable communities around the world. Ultimately, materialism can be a good and a bad thing, and it’s up to us to decide how we want to use the idea of materialism to live our lives on this planet.

Leave a Reply