Environmental economists and consumption behaviorists (such fancy positions) have of course turned our well-being into a mathematical equation (got to love it)!
So what is the equation?
Well-Being is a function of "well-offness" which is basically yearly annual income. This factor increases well being drastically until we reach about $70,000 and then per dollar we receive we have less need so it doesn't contribute much more to our overall "well-offness".
So you and Jeff Bezos might be at similar levels of well-offness!
The factor of Satisfaction comes from individual feelings of happiness, status and esteem (this is what our friends play a role in).
Lastly is the deduction from overall well-being that results from the environmental damage caused by our consumption.
What term can be manipulated for happiness?
While you can change your yearly income, we already discussed that, that isn't going to result in a significant well-being change past a certain point.
What about the Satisfaction factor?
This is where who your friends are can really have an impact.
Have you ever purchased something a new dress or shoes or even big purchases like a new car only to find your friend had just gotten one slightly better?
This behavior can lead to what is termed Competitive Consumption where purchasing goods is no longer based on a need and often not even based on what you can afford (currently the average U.S. household has $9,000 in credit card debt). Instead it is purchasing in order to maintain status, prove self worth or out of fear of someone else having it.
What do you do if you find yourself in a Competitive Consumption friendship circle?
Change the norms
Within groups there is a Consumption Norm. This is the idea that whenever you buy it isn't too far outside of a certain limit either above or below. So within your friendship circle if you start to reduce your purchasing (while risking the initial connotation of being a social outcast) it can start to drive the consumption of the entire group down. This will leave you all at a new norm of consumption which will not impact your satisfaction as much, but it will reduce the subtraction from environmental damage.
Change how you view consumption
The other option is to be the leader in your group sharing information on the impacts of consumption. This I love, it's known as Altruistic Consumption and is the voluntary act of purchasing low-impact goods, reducing overall purchases and sharing items in order to reduce the negative health and environmental impacts of buying. This change will leave you and your friends more Satisfied and also a greater sense of overall well-being because you also reduce the negative environmental impact.
How to be an Altruistic Consumer?
1. Follow accounts that share information that you can re-share with your friends about consumption.
2. Un-follow accounts that make you feel like you need to be constantly buying.
Un-follow big brands! We need to show them we don't want to see their Fast Fashion BS.
3. Create a sharing and swapping community within your friends. Plan a swap (even if it's socially distanced). Ask to borrow things.
You are not in competition with them. They are your friends.
4. Post pictures in old clothes and share why you still love it. Too often our feeds are only new items not old school beautiful loved items!