Mindless consumption

In a previous article, we discussed the problem with cheap, which was actually, a prime example of mindless consumption. We make purchases without giving much thought, perhaps thinking that we might need it someday (which we probably did not require).

What happens though, when they are never consumed? We probably do not realize this – the cost of mindless consumption.

What are they exactly?

Cost of storing stuff. Stuff occupies space. And the space we live in should be a living space, not storage space. We should only store and own stuff that we need. Stuff that do not fall under this category still takes up space and imagine if you have 50% of stuff in the house which you do not actually need, this actually takes up a significant amount of space in the house. As homes in Singapore are getting smaller, there is naturally less storage space and many people have actually resorted to storage facilities to store the excess. That explains the surge in demand for self-storage facilities like Lock and Store, Storehub, ExtraSpace etc. in this tiny island. And guess what, these don’t services don’t come in cheap!

Cost of maintenance. You might need to clean or check these stuff once in a while to make sure they are in working condition even though you might not need it now (again, you are storing it with the assumption that you will need it later). All these excess might be “just in case” items and simply adds clutter to your life.

Cost of disposal. This wasteful habit has become a norm as more and more Singaporeans are disposing more stuff than ever. Accordingly, total solid waste generated in Singapore is about 7.67 million tonnes and recycling rate is about 61%. To break it up further, items that we utilize on a daily basis garner an even lower recycling rate: food (13%), textile or leather (8%) and plastics (7%). These statistics further reinforces the fact that most of the items that we consume daily are mostly non-recyclable items which simply increase our carbon footprint.We might not necessarily incur the disposal costs directly. However, resources are being incurred to dispose of these waste from the various agencies.

Environmental cost to create all these products. We should also recognize the environmental cost that is incurred in producing every single item on this planet. In a new study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology,  it shows that the stuff we consume  is responsible for up to 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and between 50 and 80 percent of total land, material, and water use.

“We all like to put the blame on someone else, the government, or businesses. … But between 60-80 percent of the impacts on the planet come from household consumption. If we change our consumption habits, this would have a drastic effect on our environmental footprint as well,” Diana Ivanova, a PhD candidate at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and lead author on the study, said in a press release.

We probably never think much when we were clicking the check-out cart on any online shopping website, or shoving items to the basket when we see that sale sign on. But perhaps we could be a bit more mindful in future. After all, this is not just about us.


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