As the famous adage holds, we should try to Do More With Less. We’re living in a time in which minimalism has become a movement and to Marie Kondo has become a verb. As we all know, materialism is bad for the planet and people around us, but in this blog post for Justice Everywhere, I only focus on how self-interest might also be a significant motivator to reduce our materialism, and also give a humble suggestion as to what fundamentally underlies moving to Doing More With Less (or getting even better at it if you’re already on the programme).
Consumerism is not making us happy, because it tries to fill up the bottomless depths of the Empty Self, we have a relentless desire for more and new stuff, even though this will only satisfy us for a moment. Research has shown time and again that beyond the point of subsistence needs, material wealth has little relationship with wellbeing. Materialistic values are associated with a pervasive undermining of people's personal wellbeing. Consumerism leads to consumer anxiety, work stress, and materialistic pursuits thwart other pursuits and other sources of life satisfaction, the most important of which are mainly non-material in nature: leisure, interpersonal relationships, community involvement, cultural and political participation, recognition, self-respect, and personal growth.
In the documentary Minimalism, A documentary about the important things, influential American Professor of Sociology Juliet Schor provocatively says that we are actually not materialistic enough:
"We are too materialistic in the everyday sense of the world. And we are not at all materialistic enough in the true sense of the word. We need to be true materialists, like really care about the materiality of goods. Instead we’re in a world in which material goods are so important for their symbolic meaning, what they do to position us in the status system based on what advertising or marketing says they’re about."
You can read the entire blog post on Justice Everywhere.