Capitalism is the easiest thing to point fingers at when it comes to the destruction of the environment. And it's not for no good reason. Capitalism allows for companies to act questionably, dumping chemicals into bodies of water, emitting toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, and unethically sourcing materials. But, we always forget to look at ourselves. Consumerism is wreaking havoc on our environment just as much as capitalism. Maybe we overlook this fact just because it's easier to blame big companies who have so much influence, power, and money that they are entitled not to change (not to say that they shouldn't). It's easier for us to think that there's nothing we can do. It's easier to be complacent.
Consumerism is what encourages us to always buy the newer, bigger, better thing. It's what runs capitalism. We always want newer things, even if our old things work just fine. People keep buying things that they don't need, in mass amounts. The best example of this is clothing. We go to a store, we see a cool t-shirt or a pair of jeans and buy them. We go home to realize we have the exact same t-shirt or the same colored jeans. I can't tell you how many basic black t-shirts I have accumulated over the years. Eventually, those things end up not used.
Because of this endless cycle of buying, consumerism is a large contributing factor to the amount of junk we have in landfills. Think about yourself for a minute. How many things do you buy that you never use? How many products do you buy that you never finish? How many times do you buy repeats of something that you already have, just because it's on sale? How often do you buy a plastic toothbrush and how often do you replace it? All of these things contribute to our landfills. Your plastic toothbrush will end up in our oceans or in our landfills forever.
So what can you do?
The easiest thing to do is to actually use things up. Find different ways to use things. For example, I end up buying crappy shampoo all the dang time. Instead of throwing it away, I'll use it to wash my makeup brushes or use it for a bubble bath. This way, I don't waste product, materials, and my own money. I don't need a product specifically for my makeup brushes or my bubble bath, because my crappy shampoo works just fine for those things. Not only do I save money, but I'm actually thinking of the products I use and where my empty products go after I use them.
If we all put a little more thought into what we buy, our lives would all be a little better. We'd be contributing less to waste, saving money, and living less cluttered lives in our day-to-day.