The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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Overconsumption is overrated

Audrey Li
Stanley Cup, Hydroflask or your dad’s random water bottle? The three cups provide little to no difference in terms of effectiveness and utility.

In a consumer-driven society, overconsumption has far-reaching consequences and has only become a greater issue. Overconsumption, defined as the excessive consumption or use of goods and services, affects individuals of all ages, from young children and teens influenced to buy products targeted for older people to adults caught in an endless game of catch-up, keeping up with the latest trends. 

The environmental impact of overconsumption is staggering. The production of goods, especially when increased to compensate for overconsumption, consumes valuable resources and generates waste, contributing significantly to pollution and environmental degradation.

This is particularly evident in the new and rapidly rising industry of fast fashion. Sure, fast fashion can come in handy in emergencies, but it’s built around a culture of overconsumption – clothes are mass-produced, and then become unwearable in a few months due to the cheap material. In the long run, buying fast fashion is simply unsustainable, and is a waste of money and materials. These clothes get thrown away, and customers return to buy more to replace the ones thrown away.

Social media acts as a fuel to the fire, as even though TikTok is mostly used for good, there are indirect drawbacks to the app. Pushed by the TikTok algorithm, countless videos of pantries filled with snacks, closet racks lined up with shoes, rooms stacked with delivery boxes, and vanities with skincare and makeup overflowing create an unrealistic standard for the average TikTok user. This has created a culture where quantity is valued over quality, leading to constant consumption and waste.

Take the Stanley Cup, for instance. Known for their durability and ability to keep water cold, TikTok culture has created a competition of who has the newest, hottest color, and how many different cups one has. The reality is that most people only use one or two water bottles a day. The difference between these products is minimal. A Hydro Flask purchased in middle school can still be as functional and reliable as a brand-new Stanley Cup in flamingo pink. 

The problem is further pushed by influencers and content creators who often promote any product as long as the company gives them money through paid sponsorships. Companies will often create carefully curated scripts to make their products seem appealing, and influencers with a huge following can make products go viral in simply one video. The fast-paced nature of social media, with trends coming and going in a matter of weeks leads to a constant cycle of purchasing to stay on trend.

The pressure to constantly consume and play catch-up leads many individuals to compare themselves to others and measure their self-worth based on how many material items one has. This unhealthy mindset perpetuates a cycle of overconsumption, as people strive to acquire more to feel successful or worthy in the eyes of others in the form of tangible proof – the latest trendy product. 

To address the issue of overconsumption, individuals must be more mindful of their consumption habits and be aware of what they are buying and repurchasing. Breaking free from the cycle of overconsumption will lead to a more balanced and environmentally-conscious way of life.

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