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The Influence of Trends on Overconsumption

Courtesy of WWD

It seems that every week something new is trending. Whether it be a specific style of clothing or a water bottle brand, there is always something that everyone seems to want. From lace ball gowns in the 18th century to flared leggings and uggs, we have been active members of trend culture for literal centuries. However, though time keeps moving forward, we aren’t improving our methods of creation. Fashion was relatively sustainable before the industrial revolution, but since then things have gotten much worse. We are also beginning to go through trends incredibly fast, with U.S consumer spending increasing by 400% since the 1970’s (scroll down for all sources used!). So, how are overconsumption and trends related- does an increase in trends increase overconsumption, and why is overconsumption so bad in the first place?

Overconsumption and growth economy key drivers of environmental crises
Credits to

The definition of overconsumption is true to its name. It’s when humans consume resources to a point where they either aren’t able to or aren’t willing to reuse or replenish these resources. For example, our need for oil and natural gasses. We use so much that at a point we will run out and will be unable to replenish our supply. Overconsumption can be seen in many different forms, whether that be agriculture or fashion. The reason why overconsumption is so bad is because of the harmful things it does to the environment. To create things we need resources from the Earth, and as overconsumption becomes more prevalent the number of resources we use increases. This can lead to things like air pollution and climate breakdown. Speaking simply, overconsumption is pretty bad.

The influence trends and fashion have on overconsumption is surprisingly large. At a certain point a lot of people stopped desiring quality in their clothes, and began to focus more on quantity. If you are on any social media app and have ever come across a Shein haul, you can see that some people spend hundreds of dollars on clothes that are abysmal quality. Rather than investing in high quality and more expensive clothes, they cycle through $500 worth of clothes that are horribly made. This is only really an issue when people spend these massive amounts of money on sites like Shein or Temu. It’s understandable when someone spends $20 on sites like those because they might not be able to afford other things, but when people spend extremely high amounts of money it shows that they are able to afford better things. Trends largely influence this process. When something new becomes popular more people buy that thing. It makes sense that we over consume so much when the rapidity of trends is considered. We are constantly looking for the new hot item, forgetting the old items we once loved.

Buy Buttons: What They Are and How They Work
Courtesy of Lifewire

Fast fashion has also become incredibly accessible. To purchase something on Amazon, you need only swipe and it will be delivered within a day or two. The option to buy something immediately and pay later also makes us more susceptible to overconsumption. It is so simple for us to purchase whatever we might desire. If I’m being honest, I’ve fallen victim to both of the above many times. There’s just something so satisfying about impulsively buying something and having it arrive so soon. The usage of the words “buy now” are actually the most appealing to us. The word “now” promises instant gratification, which is often felt right after a purchase. This impacts overconsumption because a larger amount of people purchase goods from not so sustainable companies, increasing consumption and the negative effects that come with it. 

Given that trends go in and out of style so quickly, you might wonder why trends come about in the first place. If you asked me, I would say it’s because it creates a sense of belonging. Humans are driven by this need, and it influences many of our actions. A trend might start when a celebrity wears something, or a certain new item is pushed forward into the media. As it begins to gain attraction and the people around us have that item, we want it too. We wish to belong, to be part of some community greater than ourselves. It makes us feel human.


Sources :


Consumer Culture

Overconsumption vs. Overpopulation

How Overconsumption Affects the Environment

Psychology of Buy Now

Buy Now and Its Impact on Environment


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  • M

    Mrs. SummaMay 17, 2024 at 7:24 pm

    I really enjoyed your article. You were right on the spot! I think that sometimes I’m that person who enjoys buying items online for that feeling of instant gratification…especially during the Christmas season!
    A good read. Thank you!
    Mrs. Summa

    • Z

      Zaineb FawziMay 21, 2024 at 12:24 pm

      I definitely relate to the instant gratification feeling. Thank you for reading!

  • E

    EllaMay 10, 2024 at 6:11 pm

    Wow! This article is extremely well written! Nice job Zaineb!

    • Z

      Zaineb FawziMay 21, 2024 at 12:22 pm

      Thank you Ella!