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The Orbit

The Student News Site of North Polk High School

The Orbit

The Student News Site of North Polk High School

The Orbit

Symbols of Status and Overconsumption

An+image+taken+from+The+Mirror+depicts+a+screenshot+from+a+viral+video+showing+customers+rushing+and+fighting+over+limited+edition+Stanleys+in+what+people+are+calling+a+%E2%80%9CStanley+Stampede.%E2%80%9D
An image taken from The Mirror depicts a screenshot from a viral video showing customers rushing and fighting over limited edition Stanleys’ in what people are calling a “Stanley Stampede.”

As social media becomes further integrated into teenagers’ lives, new trends are introduced on the daily and a pressure to follow suit occurs. No one wants to feel as though they are the one person without an item everyone else has. While America praises individualism, are we even individuals as we consume and consume products to make us fit in with others? If you did not have social media would you be dressing the same, using the same products, eating the same food as you are right now?

One of these trends is the reusable water bottle which is supposed to be the “green” alternative to its plastic counterpart, but after purchasing a reusable water bottle from Swell, Hydroflask, Nalgene, Owala and Stanley to keep up with the latest trends, do they even end up getting reused?

Teenagers are the greatest victims of these micro-trends that require the purchase of products that will become irrelevant by the end of the month. For example, wearing bows to be “coquette”, buying leopard print clothing to be a “mafia wife,” wearing Uggs and neutral colors to be a “vanilla girl” and the list continues. However, the main perpetrator of targeting teens appears to be the water bottle market which has become the latest symbol of not only status but overconsumption.

The latest water bottle receiving social media hype is the notorious Stanely tumbler which essentially demands customers to purchase it because of its limited stock, aesthetic colors and accessibility as it has a handle and straw making it the ideal carrying cup. 

In an ABC News interview it was explained that “This [cup craze] is really kind of a funny intersection of something that can be green and more sustainable, i.e. a reusable product, but a marketing and fashion moment that is really, truly unsustainable, and it’s an unfortunate intersection,” said Sandra Goldmark, a circular economy and interdisciplinary climate strategies expert.

The ongoing climate crisis is consistently worsened by overconsumption and the blame cannot be solely placed on the people purchasing these items even if their habits are entirely unsustainable. Instead, companies work to make sure at the end of the day it is their items that are flying off the shelves and are using social media as their agent to do so.

“One of the things that we’ve been seeing is the mimicking of other unboxing trends that have been really big on different social media platforms,” and “The color drops are a fascinating way to tap into that big reveal. It’s part of how Shein took off with the Shein hauls,” stated media science professor Kathryn Coduto, in an interview with The Gwinnett Daily Post.

However, while social media is the vehicle to get these products to the public it is up to people to be aware of what their environmental impact is with each product they purchase. It may seem as though one person’s buying habits may not affect anything, however, these habits add up and mindfulness is important.

We can be more aware of our environmental impact by using programs such as a Carbon Footprint Calculator and using simple reasoning such as reflecting on how many reusable water bottles a person needs. Likely one or two is the answer because the entire purpose is to reuse it, not to use it as an accessory that has to match every outfit we wear. We all fall victim to trends once and a while but reflection is the key to combating our consumption habits. Do you actually like it? Or is social media telling you to like it? 

“It’s easy to forget when you are scrolling through TikTok,” explained Coduto.

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Addy Happ, Newspaper Editor

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