Can Somethin’ Be Done About All This Consumption?

brown-bear.jpgDoes a stuffed animal REALLY need its OWN designer camera cell phone, ipod, silver sequined belt, ‘pawsport’ to travel, sneakers, underpanties, headband, matching outfit and gazillion accessories?

Every time I see the master marketing behind Build-A-Bear (complete with barkers at the door to entice people inside and computerized ‘birth certificates’ to capture kids’ data) I think of excessive consumerism and mindless materialism being ‘stuffed’ into children.

The same money spent on ONE fashionista critter could be used to buy an entire case of plain ol’ warm-n-fuzzy teddy bears sent through organizations like Good Bears of the World or Operation Teddy Care… Great way to teach kids how to ‘pay it forward’ too.

ESPECIALLY when the Wall Street Journal reports, “The people who brought you the $3,000 “it” bag and jewel-studded flip-flops have their eye on your children.” Just ducky. The WSJ article goes on to say:

“Today’s teens and young adults, acutely aware of the high-end designer labels around them, are increasingly expressing themselves through conspicuous consumption. And luxury-goods purveyors from Coach to Tiffany to Louis Vuitton are falling all over themselves to cater to them.”

Bubble gum from Bergdorf’s? Puccis & Guccis for tots? And now Needless Markup (er, excuse me, my bad, I meant, Neiman Marcus) is teaming up with über designers to create 31 exclusive haute couture contemporary dresses they’ll promo at a “Hip Event” weekend to tantalize teens. Ugh. No comment. At least not one I can publish.

Instead, here’s a fun, free shockwave/flash game called Consumption Gumption from MIT, plus The Great Green Web Game for kids to see how consumer choices affect the environment, (from Union of Concerned Scientists) and an excerpt from Affluenza, an insightful book on the societal impact this behavior is having on our emotional health and well-being.



  1. Bravo–or BravA, if you prefer!!–You have put this travesty into a NUTshell.(Now: if only the NUTS who dream up this stuff, much less BUY it) could be bundled up that neatly… (Then,it would be sheer bliss if this lot were herded together to some dimly-lighted overseas sweatshop for 60 days’confinement,forced to work 12-hr.shifts,& ordered to devote their rare’off-hours’ to watching non-stop re-runs of Al Gore’s documentary,”An Inconvenient Truth.”)

  2. Hmmm…

    But it’s got to stop at some moment, no? I mean, there are people born with consumerism in their blood and who will die as consumerists, but I think I’m getting over my consumerist stage. I still have lots of clothes I’ll never wear in my closet and millions of books falling/being stepped on/organised/disorganised/etc. in my room, but I think I’ve reached the point in my life in which I can safely look at the ultimate fashion and stuff without having the need to empty my pockets. I still buy some senseless stuff, yes, but with a much more moderated mind.

    I also agree with you on the view of consumerism. One of my classmates said as a mosaic in the beginning of her speech on money, “We are all guilty of having spent a man’s life last weekend. As we spent perhaps 100 dollars in meals, one man in the World died because he could not afford the meds for his infection”. Now, I’d like to see the private investment putting *that* on TV.

    Best wishes!

  3. I think the fact that there are ‘diff. stages of acquisition’ in our lives has merit…(just ask any marketer targeting youth trends or ‘starting out’ couples!) Some is senseless and random, some is ‘the basic 3’ but it just seems there’s a high volume of wretched excess, skewing the worldview in a short-sighted way.

    Not saying we should all be monks or play only social impact games, but SOME semblance of balance is in order when media/mktg. has such a high saturation level reinforcing the consumption msg.

    Wish someone would create a playable alt/video game to show the sustainability correlations somehow, for even in our counter-marketing we try to use cause & effect visuals. It could have a strong web-app if it were not so dire/minimalist/preachy but instead was common sense FUN.

    If you hear of this in your various youth arenas pls. ping me to cover, ‘k?

  4. Love this. Well said! This is exactly what I’ve been writing about this morning too.

    In Australia we have a groundswell of opposition to the sneaky and overt bombardment of our kids with messages to eat unhealthy food(and lots of it). There’s even a parents jury about to start shaming some of the worst food marketing practitioners around in the hopes they’ll change their ways (and lose some of their influence!):

    I’ve just dicovered your blog and I’m going to stay and have a good look around! 🙂

  5. Appreciate that, and I’ll do the same with your org, as we’ve had considerable groundswell from Australia, and I think we’re starting to reach some tipping points in terms of global backlash in the parental arena.

    Click on our ‘childhood obesity’ category if you’d like more on our counter-marketing games. We’re small but mighty and gaining ground…we hope to make them available on the site for anyone to source and use throughout the globe. We’re filming them now to post in ‘train the trainer’ clips! Stay tuned…and thanks for the comment! –Amy

  6. I really enjoyed both of the game links.

    Love the posts you have here – I mean, seriously educational stuff! (I love educational stuff.) With a big dash of sassy thrown it.

    Good times!

  7. yeah…that’s me…outspoken for sure!! 😉

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