3The Effects of Living in a Consumer World

CONSUMERISM IS ALL-ENCOMPASSING. It is not simply an economic system; in a fundamental way, it defines how we relate to our world. That is why it can be considered an ecology. It has become a cultural as well as economic system. It impacts how we relate to each other; it shapes our relationship with food, work, music, ritual, religion—all the elements of culture. And for this ecological system to work, we have to willingly participate in the effort to purchase what matters, and we must persist at it, despite the lack of results. There are efforts to use other measures, such as happiness rather than dollars spent, to indicate well-being, but these are on the far horizon.

It is this consumptive ecological ...

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