Some Curious Facts About Consumerism

Consumerism is a modern phenomenon. In previous centuries, resources were far scarcer, and there were fewer people who could afford to acquire goods. In this article, we're going to discuss some curious facts about this activity.
Some Curious Facts About Consumerism
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 22 March, 2024

Consumerism is a contemporary phenomenon. Unfortunately, it’s closely linked to another current problem: pollution. Indeed, both topics go hand in hand. Overproduction damages the planet whilst merciless consumption gives rise to waste that exceeds reasonable ends.

Impulse buying is no longer viewed as an amusing eccentricity. Furthermore, consumerism is also associated with another of the great evils of our time: credit card debt. Together, they often equate to the phenomenon of “buying what you don’t need, with money you don’t have”.

Consumerism isn’t so much a behavior as an attitude. Not only does it refer to an activity that goes far beyond covering our needs, but it also transcends specific areas. In fact, consumerism exists in art, sex, and almost anything you can imagine. Without a doubt, this insatiable voracity is one of the signs of our time. Here are some curious facts about consumerism.

In addition to being an economy of excess and waste, consumerism is also, and for precisely that reason, an economy of deceit.”

-Zygmunt Bauman-

Woman shopping online
Consumerism increases debt through the use of credit cards.

Worrying facts surrounding consumerism

In certain areas of the planet, consumption is really intense. It’s estimated that, by the year 2050, there’ll be around 9.6 billion people in the world. As such, if we continue as we are, our planet will become unviable and we will need three planets the size of Earth to maintain the supply at the current rate of consumption.

In fact, today, according to Greenpeace, almost more than 50 percent of the natural resources that were used 30 years ago are extracted and used. Furthermore, every year, around 12 million tons of plastic reach the oceans. At least 40 percent corresponds to single-use packaging. Worryingly, figures indicate that people use plastic bags for an average of only 15 minutes before they discard them.

Moreover, 100 billion items of clothing are manufactured each year. Currently, a person buys an average of 60 percent more clothes than 15 years ago. For this reason, the fast fashion industry has imposed the trend of single-use clothing. Indeed, if people only kept their clothes for a year, CO2 emissions would be reduced by 24 percent.

More curious facts about consumerism

Consumerism generates situations that border on the limit of the absurd. For example, the world’s most expensive hot dog costs $169. It’s called the Juuni ban and it contains bratwurst sausage, teriyaki butter-roasted onions, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffle shavings, caviar, maitake mushrooms, and Japanese mayonnaise. In some impoverished countries, many families could survive for a whole month on the amount of money that just one of these hot dogs costs.

Without a doubt, shopping malls equate to the mecca of consumerism. They’re everywhere. In fact, they’ve become the center of many people’s social lives, especially in winter. The largest in the world is the Dubai Mall. It has a total area of nine square kilometers. It’s home to some 1,200 stores, as well as 120 restaurants and cafes. The world’s largest candy store is also located there. It’s called Candylicious and covers 930 square meters.

One more curious fact: the best-selling toy in history is the famous Rubik’s cube. It appeared in the 1980s. To date, more than 350 million units have been sold. By the way, its inventor, Erno Rubik, never intended it to become a toy. He created it to teach geometry to his students.

Rubik's Cube
The Rubik’s cube is one of the best-selling puzzles in the world due to its fascinating complexity.

The consumerism party: Black Friday

If there’s one day on the calendar that represents the peak of consumerism, it’s the famous Black Friday. At some point, a hoax circulated that suggested the day was so-called because it commemorated the buying and selling of slaves on the day after Thanksgiving at a discounted rate. However, this has been denied.

It seems that, in reality, the name of this consumerism celebration originated in Philadelphia. But, it caused so much traffic and there were so many people on the streets that chaos ensued. Hence, the authorities saw it as a ‘black day’. Another reason that was given for the name is that it’s the date on which the accounting figures stop being in the red and go into the black.

Black Friday originated in the United States. However, today, people celebrate it throughout almost the entire Western world. On the last Black Friday, in the USA alone, consumers spent more than nine billion dollars. This was despite the fact that the shadow of a recession was spreading throughout the world. That’s consumerism, immediate and unstoppable.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Greenpeace. (s. f.). Consumismo. Greenpeace España.

  • Cornejo Portugal, I. (2006). El centro comercial desde la comunicación y la cultura: Un modelo analítico para su estudio. Convergencia, 13(40), 13-37.

  • Rodríguez Díaz, S. (2012). Consumismo y sociedad: una visión crítica del homo consumens.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.