The value of stuff in a consumeristic society

Consumption is an interesting phenomenon. Consumers are taught through advertising to want more and more.

by Laura Lofgreen —

There is nothing more satisfying than setting a goal and working hard to accomplish it. For example, a teenager wanting that first pair of name-brand jeans realizes it takes a lot of work and dedication to earn the money to purchase them. As a result, wearing them for the first time produces an amazing feeling. That first pair of jeans has a lot of value because of the sacrifice it took to purchase them.

So how do these same jeans go from having great value to having little or no value? Never mind that they are still in excellent condition. Forget the fact that they are still in style. Very soon after being purchased, they will transform from being an item of great value to something of little or no value.

Consumption is an interesting phenomenon. Consumers are taught through advertising to want more and more. But, soon after purchasing an item, they are already convinced they need a newer, more expensive or differently styled item — essentially a bigger and better version of the same thing. Walk through any thrift store and one will see beautiful clothing for sale, discarded by the owner as something with little or no value.

The value of an item is not only philosophical, but spiritual as well. Once the value of something is lost, it no longer is appreciated or respected. Is it just the mind that places value on something?

How can the same item hold a different value from one person to the next? After all, it is exactly the same item. Is something valued only by the sacrifice it takes to obtain it?

An attitude of gratitude can keep an item valuable. Graditude can help consumers resist the urge to want more and more when they already have a closet or storage unit full of items.

 

Laura Lofgreen is the mother of three boys and enjoys yard sales and thrift stores, where she looks for items that have lost their value to their owners; she later resells these items on the Internet. lauralofgreen@aol.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 3, June/July 2006.

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