Overconsumption is consumption of a resource or good that produces net negative value. The following are illustrative examples.
OverexploitationThe consumption of a renewable resource to the point that it can no longer be renewed. This is extremely wasteful, destructive and irrational. For example, in the Gilded Age the American Bison was hunted to near extinction from a herd of around 25 million down to less than 100. This eliminated the livelihood of the Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains that had consumed this resource at a sustainable pace for around 15,000 years.
Economic BadsConsumption that creates economic bads such as pollution that exceed economic benefits can be viewed as overconsumption. For example, a widget sold for $1 that produces $32 in air pollution to manufacture. In order to reduce overconsumption, the price of economic bads could be included in the cost of goods. This would provide incentive to remove the economic bads to reduce prices and gain market share.
Carrying CapacityThe carrying capacity of the Earth is the theory that the planet can only support a fixed number of people for a given level of consumption per person. This is greatly influenced by the efficiency of this consumption. In theory, goods could be fully reused and recycled and energy fully renewable such that carrying capacity could be extremely high. However, if societies are inefficient such that each person consumes significant resources and produces large amounts of pollution, carrying capacity will be much lower.
ConsumerismConsumerism is the observation that people appear to become obsessed with consumption such that they consume a great deal more than is required to secure a reasonable quality of life. This is largely based on the commoditization of experience whereby people use goods to substitute for elements of the human experience. For example, a luxury handbag that represents social status as a substitute for earning respect from others with your behavior.
NotesWhere consumption causes extinction, negative value approaches infinity as the resource is permanently lost for all future years.
This is the complete list of articles we have written about sustainability.
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A list of consumer behaviors.
The definition of prosumer with examples.
The definition of consumer economics with examples.
The definition of extrinsic motivation with examples.
The definition of consumption with examples.
An overview of consumer education with examples.
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An overview of economic context with examples.
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An overview of marketing analysis with examples.
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The definition of free riding with examples.
The definition of wealth effect with examples.
An overview of greed is good with examples.
An overview of the consumer economy with examples.
An overview of the Hawthorne effect with examples.
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