Consumption makes us Unhappy

Climate and environment blog

Studies highlight the fact that the consumer society is not only bad for the environment, but also for our well-being.

Attitudes and feelings about clothing consumption are examined. Participants have written a diary of their purchases for three months. The text material has since been interpreted by researchers.

The results show that most participants want to consume sustainably and that people tend to negotiate with themselves before they still make unnecessary purchases. The studies find that it is common to direct anger, frustration and anxiety towards oneself after engaging in unsustainable consumption.

Participants feel unsuccessful when they can’t resist purchasing. Similarly, when the clothes do not fit, most people felt that they were wrong, they were the ones with the wrong body shape.

The internalized feelings of shame were related to a relatively uncritical attitude towards the clothing industry as a whole.

– You simply take the fashion industry and the clothing industry for granted. It is accepted that it looks like this. The very concept of “sustainable fashion” should be understood as a contradiction:

-Fashion is about change while sustainability is about wearing the same garments many times.

Past research has often diminished the role emotions play in shaping our behavior: We need to understand why people consume so much clothing, what it means to them and what role it plays in their lives. Only then can it be seen which aspects can be replaced in other ways. One way to do this is to look at people who consume less than average.

In a European study on happiness, consumption and alternative lifestyles, researchers found that people who are members of transition groups emit 16 percent less carbon dioxide than the local average. Their ecological footprint from clothing purchases turned out to be particularly low – 86 percent smaller than the study’s control group.

The transition members also proved to have a positive attitude to their own lives to a greater extent than average.

The study shows the price of materialism. Although we do not believe it, it is bad for our well-being to collect lots of gadgets. Previous research shows that altruistic behavior, such as voluntary work, correlates with both well-being, lower emissions and environmentally conscious habits.

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