There is enough on earth for everybody’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.” Gandhi

Magazine - Consumer society


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Consumer society

by Julie Bray

There is enough on earth for everybody’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.” Gandhi

If we only bought things we needed, there would be enough for everybody. What do we need? What you need depends on how old you are and your way of life. Rearrange the list of things you can buy and put the things you think we most need at the top of the list.

  • A coat
  • A pair of trainers
  • Levi’s jeans
  • Water
  • A CD player
  • A pair of jeans
  • A dental check-up
  • Paper
  • A restaurant meal
  • A telephone
  • Jewellery
  • Gold-coloured laces in your trainers
  • Food
  • An appointment at the hair salon
  • Paracetamol
  • Shampoo
  • An iPod
  • Beer
  • Toothpaste
  • A packet of M&Ms
  • Cushion covers
  • Table mats which match the curtains

If we don’t need to buy so much, we don’t need to work so much. We can take part-time jobs or reduce our working day from 8 hours to 6 hours. Some people are leaving very well-paid jobs to live a healthier life in the countryside or a more exciting life abroad. This is called ‘downshifting’. Parents can spend more time with their children and the unemployed are given more opportunities to work.

If we start to respect saving the earth more than spending money, we will become ‘conservers’. When we are conservers, we try to choose environmentally friendly products which are durable and last a long time. We may find growing our own vegetables or making our own clothes more rewarding than buying them.

What was the best thing you bought last week?

Could you choose from lots of different types? We like having a choice of what to buy. People who buy things are called consumers. Consumers have choices. We usually choose the colour, taste, smell or size of what we buy, but there are other choices we can make. The following questions will help you to consider these choices.

Where was it made?

If you don’t like the place it was made, you might decide not to buy that particular product. A lot of people don’t buy products from certain countries when they don’t like the way the country is run. Was it made in a factory or on a local farm? If the product was unbelievably cheap, the people who made it might not have been paid much.

Who made it?

Do you know? If a friend made it, you would probably like it more and you would want to keep it for a long time. If it was made by somebody who enjoyed making it, the quality and the design are probably better. Or does it look like it might have been assembled in a large factory?

There are children in Asia who make Santa Claus dolls for European children to play with. The children who make the toys don’t celebrate Christmas because they are not Christian; they think of the dolls as work. Would it be better if the children in Europe made their own Christmas dolls?

What is it made from?

One of the places where we want to buy expensive luxuries is at the airport’s duty-free shop. Next to the chocolate and cigarettes, there are beautifully shaped bottles and compact boxes full of perfumes and creams which promise to make you look and feel more beautiful. If you look at the ingredients you will find that the perfumes are mainly alcohol and the creams are mainly made of petroleum!

Almost all products are sold in packaging. Some products have too much packaging, creating more rubbish and using up resources. Some use recycled packaging, which is better for the environment.

Next time you go shopping, think about what you really need to buy. Don’t deprive yourself of things you like, but decide what you should buy before you go out, so that you won’t be influenced by advertisements or promotions. If it is more expensive to buy goods which don’t have much packaging and things which are more durable, buy less. If you can choose to work less, decide which things you would like to make, do or grow yourself. Even though you have less money, your life will become richer!





Hello everyone! i've a question. Why do we use the singular form of the word 'Christian' in the following sentence : 'The children who make the toys don’t celebrate Christmas because they are not Christian...' ?

Hello anton81,

In this sentence 'Christian' is an adjective and not a noun. You could replace it with another adjective such as 'religious'. If it were a noun then it would indeed be plural, as you suggest.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I would like to ask about the transcript: "If a friend made it, you probably like it more and you will want to keep it for a long time."
Based on what I heard, it sounds correctly as the above transcript, but in term of grammar, something is not correct here. Then can it be: "If a friend made it, you would probably like it more and you would want to keep it for a long time", since the left clause is past tense?.
I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Many thanks,

Hello Sarah_le,

Thank you very much for pointing out this error and I'm sorry about the confusion. I have fixed the transcript on the page above, but I'm afraid I can't fix the problem in the PDF right now. I will do that as soon as I can. In the meantime, please refer to the text that is on the webpage instead of what is in the PDF.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, i would like to ask about this transcript: "If the product was unbelievably cheap, the people who made it might not have been paid much". yet i have heard "If the product was in unbelievably cheep, the people who made it might not of being pay much" alternatively. Am i right?

Hi ruth.1993,

I've checked the audio and the transcript is accurate. The word 'have' is not stressed in this sentence and so sounds something like 'of'. This is quite normal in connected speech and is not in any way slang or lazy. Weak forms like this help us to highlight and understand the key information in a sentence.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

This is definitely an interesting issue. I do like all the opinions of this article.

However, Can these opinions have some effect on globalizing? Actually, I have no idea about the impacts of globalizing on normal citizens.

There are many good advices which writer has passed through this article. I am completely agree with the writer that buy only those things which is necessary.

The article bring good points related to our consumption society. The only thing that don't fit in my country is related to the time of working day. Here we need to work more than 8 hours a day to pay the bills...unfurtunatly the taxes here are very hight...
I realy try to have a concientious consumption, but sometimes I forget it and buy things I realy don't need....

Consumer society article is very interesting.after reading the article i learnt many new words.this article gives us an idea about decesion making in working environment.a diverse working culture is introduced every where so that people can think differently and take their every day work in a new style.Creativity leads people in the working environment in various dimensions ranging from production to price.