Can you want something if you don't know it exists?
Clever people are always inventing new things, or new versions of old ones. This means stuff you already have quickly becomes obsolete even though it may be working perfectly well. So you feel pressure to go out and buy new. Sound familiar? Well that's the basis of the fashion industry. Fashions change quickly to keep you buying new stuff. But there's no money to be made out of a new style of shoe, cellphone or something if people don't know they're there to buy. So if you've made a new gadget you want to sell but nobody knows about it, what would you do?
You've probably seen and heard many thousands of ads demanding that you must buy this or that 'new and improved' food, drink, soap, DVD player, game... the list goes on and on. And (remember my point about needs and wants?) had you noticed that almost nothing that you need is advertised? Nobody advertises potatoes or water unless they're processed in some way — like chips or cola. So the purpose of advertising is to make you want things you don't need and didn't know about until you first saw the ad. There's another more sinister purpose too: to make you feel you're missing out somehow if you don't buy whatever it is. Suppose your friends have it and you don't?
How un-cool can you get???
You have to keep up or, better still, be one step ahead with your buying.
It takes real courage to buck the trend and not buy things that everybody else has. It's hard on kids with some money; really tough on poor kids who have none. It's also tough on parents. They have to put up with — and pay for — more and more demands from their kids for the latest trendy gizmo, stylish trainer or playstation. Advertisers even target toddlers. The idea is to get young kids to want particular brands of soft drink and breakfast cereal and so on as soon as they can walk and talk. Then the kids use their 'pester power' (I'm sure you'll know all about that!) to get the brand they know best ; the one that all their friends have. The ads have worked.
Another favourite advertising ploy is to claim that a product is 'time-saving'. People are always buying new time-saving things but seem to have less and less time... for themselves or for their kids. Why? Because they're having to work harder and harder to earn enough money to buy more and more stuff!
Humans really seem to be locked into an endless treadmill of working harder to buy more to save time to work harder...
All this means more and more factories producing more and more stuff, most of which ends up thrown away within hours or days. Just look in your garbage to see how much. All this 'future junk' comes from the Earth: it's one of the main reasons people are eating the future.
And it can't go on. It is not sustainable. Something has to give. As I said earlier, many people know this but don't feel they can do anything about it. But that just isn't so. You, your friends and family have the power to help make changes for your — our — future. On the next page, I'm going to give you some ideas how you can do this.