Anti-Consumerism Through Consumption

Whether we admit it or not, we all care about material goods. We use possessions to express who we are and identify others. When we first meet someone we judge them on their words, actions, and clothing. In the article “But are your soles Vibram? Consumerism among backpackers in South America,” David Thompson explores the idea of consumerism amid anti-materialism hikers.

When people go abroad to hike, they are usually trying to escape tourism. Hiking represents one of the purest anti materialism activities.  Most hikers claim that they are anti-materialistic, and could care less about the things they own. In some cases however, hikers are very materialistic, equipping themselves with the highest end hiking gear, and commenting on the products other hikers own. This makes sense since hikers need to be properly prepared for the trail. However, when consumerism continues to exist in such an anti-consumerism activity is it ever truly possible to escape materialism?

It is a fact that our world today is being driven by material items. Even when we try to get away from materialistic things and go back to nature, we are followed by the brands we are wearing. Although it is upsetting to think that our world revolves around materialistic items, materialism allows us to connect to new people and find some common ground. Many people use the brands people are wearing to break the ice and start a conversation. It is important however in our world today, to not let our brands define who we are and what we set out to accomplish. Although it seems hypocritical, it is still possible to be anti-consumerism while still being materialistic. Like the hikers in South America, if we are able to move past the consumerism and seek pure experiences, consumerism will no longer define us.