Opinion: Social media feeds overconsumption and its overflowing landfills

By MELANIE PEREZ

Have you ever bought something because it became a trend and later question why you’ve purchased it? 

Trends created on social media have created an overbearing amount of overconsumption that affects essentially every aspect of our lives. 

Trends have always been going around, although they are always usually different they’ve grown to become short lived after each one begins. With our current technology becoming extremely advanced over the years, overconsumption has had no pause to it. Aside from overconsumption affecting the world’s status of climate, it has also affected the mentality of most people as  the idea of perception has become important to most young individuals and causes people to follow trends. 

For example, with the app Tik Tok gaining popularity in 2020 as a result of COVID keeping people inside their homes, many individuals looked for an outlet that was new unlike Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. The growth on Tik Tok was up to 180 percent amongst 15-25 year olds. On the app Tik Tok most videos were up to a minute, most times less. We saw trends in food, ideologies, politics, and most significantly materialistic items. Websites such as Shein and AliExpress created ways for you to buy and receive clothes at a very cheap price with an extended period of time waiting to receive your item. Many videos on Tik Tok circulated popularizing 90’s style with a modern take on it. Clothing items such as band tees, mini tank tops, and baggy jeans were once again popularized. Other articles such as cd’s, vinyls, specific types of jewelry, and other accessories also blew up during this time. These trends of 2020 as a result of Tik Tok began to create endless niches for people on the internet. Fast fashion was at its peak and the cycles of trends began to die at a rapid pace.  

With the internet becoming extremely advanced in its ways to purchase items there has been an influx of shopping online and a decrease in retail shopping. With this being said, various websites offer fast delivery with no stress of having to step outside your home. As a result of quick shipping and variety of merchandise, there has been a large amount of  trash ending up in landfill that is returned items people have purchased online since customers are unsatisfied. People’s expectations are raised when something is marketed to them online and different in quality once received in person. The trash in landfills continues to grow at a concerning rate. Companies understand this but most have done nothing about it. Many apps and websites that sell products of any sort often have an “as seen on Tik Tok” selection or a word with the end “tok”. Amazon, Ulta, Target, Barnes and Noble and various other stores being either online or in person have become aware of the influx of shoppers as a result of Tik Tok. Corporations have made it extremely easy for people to mindlessly buy these items as it benefits them by setting up a selection of merchandise that has recently gained popularity through social media. Now more than ever the internet has advanced and will continue to do so, it will only become easier for customers to shop any time they’d like. 

Further more people now with greater reason care about opinion and perception, this varies whether it is about themselves or the people around them. Most individuals have at some point in their life followed a trend of their time, as humans we look to connect with those around us. If you look around and see others with the same thing, it will begin to feel important to you too. With this being said, people are extremely likely to follow what is deemed as “cool.” They buy the clothes or change something about their physical appearance in order to feel bonded to those around them. We are affected socially by trends and feel pressured to participate, it is a part of human nature. By this process, overconsumption has escalated, corporations use sweatshops to keep up with trends and quickly put out merchandise. The quality, time, effort, and skill for someone to make a product has become irrelevant to people while the price and relevance of the product itself has become the most valued features. Marketers have seen these opportunities and take their chances to grow, they value money and sales while the amount of consequences resulting from these industries is infinite. This has only been the beginning of what marketing has become and it will continue to change, corporations understand the vulnerability of people that want to be a part of something and have taken advantage of it. 

Although there are multiple potential alternatives to solving this issue, I believe some of them include changing the types of materials corporations use in their merchandise to something slightly more eco friendly. By doing this, the mass production of these items would be less harmful if they are thrown out. Since most if not all corporations use materials that are unsustainable they will be in landfill for many years to come, with eco-friendly perishable materials this problem can be avoided and decreased. 

For these reasons, social media has created overconsumption to be in an overbearing state that will be extremely hard to return from. This has only been the beginning of the drastic change we see happen to the world as a result of social media unless we make efforts to reverse it. 

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