People buy things, all the time, but why they do so is not completely clear.
It is not as though they would suffer terribly if the act of buying did not happen – so it is not instinct of self preservation that pushes them to do so. Economists have long held the view that people buy because of the psychological issue – a feeling of lack and inadequacy – and this has become the generally held view. However everybody in academia does not accept the psychological rationale for consumption. A counter view is that consumption is like celebration, and like celebration a way to reconnect with people and society. So consumption is a social ‘thing’ and a way to socialize – something you wouldn’t need to do if you were the only person on this planet.
People have to learn to become effective consumers. There exists a right way. What to wear and what to eat is not to be determined by comfort or familiarity alone.
One solution to make our practices of consumption sustainable is very simple and has been around for a long time. This is to renounce consumption – to give up, to say no, and so construct a different way.
Another way is to change our consumption practices and develop a way that is distinct. Throughout human history groups of people have gathered around an idea and disagreed with the ‘dominant’ way. Cities in fact tend to be breeding grounds of such trains of thought.
As designers what we can certainly do in this area is to develop ‘things’ that allow people to think independently and make up their minds about consumption.
We earn money and then go about spending it with shocking consequences. For just a moment if we stop spending! It would be wonderful. We could give up, renounce and slow things down just a bit.