The Importance of Ending Consumerism
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The Importance of Ending Consumerism
America is the world’s biggest and most earnest consumer. Within the national culture, there is a tremendous emphasis placed on the acquisition of goods, and subsequently, the cultivation of luxury. The American dream itself implies material gain, the pot of gold at the end (or top) of the socioeconomic ladder. Collectively and personally, Americans identify themselves through consumerist attitudes and practices. Ironically, the price of such consumerism is far greater than the simple cost of any given product; though not necessarily in terms of currency, but that of planetary expense. The harm done to Mother Earth is substantial both in its scope and rate of growth. Luckily, though, it is also avoidable.
Clearly, one of the best ways to aid the environment is to eliminate excess. By excess, I mean the needless proliferation of products, elaborate packaging and the waste that such extravagances necessitate. The overuse of fossil fuels in production, waste products created by industry and the damage rendered to the landscape, all direct outgrowths of consumerist practices, contribute to the destruction of our most valuable resources, such as clean water, and air. Still, American society continues to heedlessly grow more and more materialistic each year.
As a wealthy and powerful nation, we Americans seem to give credence to the philosophy that if we have the economic means, we should acquire all that we can. This ideology is merely the reflection of another: might makes right. Yet, our government is often intervening in foreign affairs which do not concern our country in an immediate sense; cases in which a weaker nation or group is being victimized by a stronger party, for example, U.S. intervention in the Bosnian conflict in the late 1990s. Thus the contradiction is established between our military or foreign policy and that of our economic patterns and practices. Truly, should not the environment be defended in the same fashion as the weaker nations to whose defense we rush as a matter of custom?
The present state of the environment in America demonstrates an acute lack of foresight and an abundance of greed. Depressing though it may be, it is time that we, as nation, came together to truly evaluate the problem. Additionally, it is time that we eliminated the wheat from the chaff of our lives, the harmful luxury from the necessity.
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The effect of such a reduction in lifestyle on the environment could be observed nearly immediately. Perhaps the economy would suffer temporarily, but hopefully, it would be redirected somehow so that its aims and output seek to achieve goals differing from that of the quick buck, the consequences of which have added to the currently destructive market. Our identity as a people and a nation would benefit from an end to unchecked consumerism. Material objects, the lack of surplus of which had previously determined our value as individuals, would no longer be employed to provide our image, but merely serve a more limited function.
In conclusion, I believe that an end to consumerism would greatly aid the planet, and help conserve natural resources; furthermore I believe that the enlightenment of the public on this matter is altogether possible. All that is required of we Americans is the letting go of a skewed value system, one which is no longer environmentally viable.
The conclusion is a very important part of your essay. Although it is sometimes treated as a roundup of all of the bits that didn’t fit into the paper earlier, it deserves better treatment than that! It's the last thing the reader will see, so it tends to stick in the reader's memory. It's also a great place to remind the reader exactly why your topic is important. A conclusion is more than just "the last paragraph"—it's a working part of the paper. This is the place to push your reader to think about the consequences of your topic for the wider world or for the reader's own life!
A good conclusion should do a few things:
- Restate your thesis
- Synthesize or summarize your major points
- Make the context of your argument clear
Restating Your Thesis
You've already spent time and energy crafting a solid thesis statement for your introduction, and if you've done your job right, your whole paper focuses on that thesis statement. That's why it's so important to address the thesis in your conclusion! Many writers choose to begin the conclusion by restating the thesis, but you can put your thesis into the conclusion anywhere—the first sentence of the paragraph, the last sentence, or in between. Here are a few tips for rephrasing your thesis:
- Remind the reader that you've proven this thesis over the course of your paper. For example, if you're arguing that your readers should get their pets from animal shelters rather than pet stores, you might say, "If you were considering that puppy in the pet-shop window, remember that your purchase will support 'puppy mills' instead of rescuing a needy dog, and consider selecting your new friend at your local animal shelter." This example gives the reader not only the thesis of the paper, but a reminder of the most powerful point in the argument!
- Revise the thesis statement so that it reflects the relationship you've developed with the reader during the paper. For example, if you've written a paper that targets parents of young children, you can find a way to phrase your thesis to capitalize on that—maybe by beginning your thesis statement with, "As a parent of a young child…"
- Don’t repeat your thesis word for word—make sure that your new statement is an independent, fresh sentence!
Summary or Synthesis
This section of the conclusion might come before the thesis statement or after it. Your conclusion should remind the reader of what your paper actually says! The best conclusion will include a synthesis, not just a summary—instead of a mere list of your major points, the best conclusion will draw those points together and relate them to one another so that your reader can apply the information given in the essay. Here are a couple of ways to do that:
- Give a list of the major arguments for your thesis (usually, these are the topic sentences of the parts of your essay).
- Explain how these parts are connected. For example, in the animal-shelter essay, you might point out that adopting a shelter dog helps more animals because your adoption fee supports the shelter, which makes your choice more socially responsible.
One of the most important functions of the conclusion is to provide context for your argument. Your reader may finish your essay without a problem and understand your argument without understanding why that argument is important. Your introduction might point out the reason your topic matters, but your conclusion should also tackle this questions. Here are some strategies for making your reader see why the topic is important:
- Tell the reader what you want him or her to do. Is your essay a call to action? If so, remind the reader of what he/she should do. If not, remember that asking the reader to think a certain way is an action in itself. (In the above examples, the essay asks the reader to adopt a shelter dog—a specific action.)
- Explain why this topic is timely or important. For example, the animal-shelter essay might end with a statistic about the number of pets in shelters waiting for adoption.
- Remind the readers of why the topic matters to them personally. For example, it doesn’t matter much if you believe in the mission of animal shelters, if you're not planning to get a dog; however, once you're looking for a dog, it is much more important. The conclusion of this essay might say, "Since you’re in the market for a dog, you have a major decision to make: where to get one." This will remind the reader that the argument is personally important!