We live in a time where we have everything we need at our disposal at the touch of a button. But what is the true cost of convenience?
The world we live in today is the result of a number of cultural and economic shifts that have taken place over time. We’ve moved from an economy based on production to one driven by consumption, and our lives are structured around this shift.
The problem with this new way of living is that it has come at a cost – to ourselves, other people, and the environment.
In order to fix these issues, we need to slow down and consider what truly adds value to our lives rather than what makes it easier or more convenient for us.
PIN FOR LATER!
The quest for convenience is not without its costs. It has made us unhealthy, isolated and bored. It has eroded our relationships with those around us as we spend more time on the computer or in front of a TV screen than talking to friends and family.
In pursuit of convenience, many people are spending more and more money.
Yet what is the true cost?
In this article, I examine some of those hidden costs that may be affecting your life whether you realise it or not: from eating out regularly on a tight budget to skimping on quality products.
- What is Convenience Culture?
- The Convenience Consumer
- Examples of Convenience Consumerism
- The True Cost of Convenience
- Ways to reduce our reliance on convenience
- Conclusion: The True Cost of Convenience
What is Convenience Culture?
For most people, convenience simply means that an activity is easy to do. Many of us lead busy lives and work long hours. Anything that makes daily tasks easier or helps to save time is seen as a positive thing. Right?
Well, this is not always the case.
Convenience culture can be defined as the philosophy of outsourcing labour in pursuit of making daily living easier. It encourages the outsourcing of everyday tasks that were once considered to be part and parcel of life.
This has led to the creation of an entire industry dedicated to convenience – from ready meals in supermarkets, ordering toilet paper online with the click of a button, microwaves to speed up the cooking process, cleaning products for quick clean ups, smart phones to do almost anything, cheaper clothes made with inferior materials so they fall apart faster and so on.
The Convenience Consumer
In their pursuit of convenience, many people have become ‘consumerist’. They believe that what they own defines who they are.
They take pride in having the latest technology or owning the most fashionable clothes, but this is often based on a materialistic view of life – one where things are more important than people or experiences.
What is right is often forgotten by what is convenient.Bodie Thoene
Moreover, many of these convenience products are designed to break down quickly so that they have to be replaced regularly, which encourages consumers to buy new even if the old ones still work perfectly fine.
One of the most recent examples is smart phones that are designed with regular updates to the operating system so they can be either ‘upgraded’ or ‘downgraded’. This ensures people have to purchase new products more frequently than they otherwise might.
Examples of Convenience Consumerism
- Buying a coffee at Starbucks rather than making your own coffee at home
- Stopping at the drive-thru for fast food on the way home from work instead of making dinner at home
- Buying pre-packaged/microwavable food rather than making from scratch
- Ordering more expensive products online with same day delivery rather than searching around for cheaper prices
- Paying more for services to come to your house rather than going to the salon (e.g. for a massage or hair cut or manicure)
The True Cost of Convenience
We all know that the convenience culture comes at a cost. Whether it’s in terms of your personal health and well-being, the environment, or your wallet.
The problem with convenience is that in most cases it comes at a cost to ourselves and others.
Outsourcing personal tasks does not always make people’s lives easier.
If you order takeout you may have to wait an hour for delivery when you could have made a quick meal in just 20 minutes. The same goes for waiting in line for your coffee at Starbucks, you could have made it quicker yourself!
Convenience is often more expensive in terms of cost per use than doing the activity yourself.
If you outsourced your lunch to a sandwich shop, for example, it would cost more than if you made it yourself. The same goes for many other activities such as buying takeaways or prepared food compared to cooking at home.
Convenience culture is having an enormous impact on the environment.
Products are often made with cheaper, inferior materials to make them ‘disposable’. Whether it’s microwave meals or fast fashion clothing – many of these end up in landfills.
In addition, these disposable and low-quality products often need to be replaced more frequently than high-quality items.
As a result, convenience culture increases the demand for resources and that means it has a negative impact on the environment.
People following convenience culture also spend more money than they would otherwise because of its far-reaching effects on consumerism and planned obsolescence.
Convenience encourages people to buy things they don’t really need and many of them end up stuck in drawers or cupboards, gathering dust instead of being used fully and for their entire lifespans.
The culture of disposability also has financial consequences because people end up buying things they would not normally buy – for example, buying coffee when you can make your own at home is an unnecessary expense.
Read also: 10 Ways to Achieve Financial Minimalism
The cost of convenience also comes about in terms of people’s health and well-being.
Disposable or pre-prepared foods often have higher levels of sugar and fat than healthier alternatives, with the typical Western diet linked to increased rates of obesity, diabetes and other long-term health problems.
The packaging that some convenience foods come in can also be harmful to the environment and people’s health.
People also have shorter attention spans as a result of being bombarded with information from social networking sites or emails – making concentration on work much more difficult than it used to be.
Another example of the high cost of convenience comes from shopping addiction.
People who shop compulsively spend more money than they would otherwise, often buying things that are not needed or cannot be afforded, and getting into debt as a result.
They also spend less time doing other activities such as socialising which can lead to isolation.
Shopping addicts often feel that shopping is the only way they can get a ‘high’ or excitement.
Many people are encouraged to engage in shopping by retailers who create an artificial need for unnecessary products – particularly through discounting, multi-buy offers and vouchers.
The impulse to buy these things can become so strong that many people end up buying several items at a time, such as clothes or make-up which they don’t need and will never use.
Ways to reduce our reliance on convenience
There are simple ways that we can reduce our reliance on convenience culture and the high cost of living for a more fulfilling life.
Making your own lunch will not only save money but you get to pick out the ingredients so you know what you’re consuming. You also get to have more variety – one of the drawbacks of buying pre-made sandwiches is that they all tend to be pretty much the same.
Planning your own meals at home can also encourage people to cook healthier food as well as save money. Stop by the grocery store on the way home and cook a quick meal rather than picking up a takeaway.
If you’re interested, you’ll do what is convenient. If you’re committed, you’ll do whatever it takes.john assaraf
Saying no to convenience offers from banks and phone companies can also be a good idea. Often these more convenient offers come with extra charges.
Remove your credit card details from online retailers so that it becomes more difficult to order items.
If people want to fight against the culture of convenience then shopping more consciously, avoiding impulse buys and looking for second-hand items are all things you can start doing.
Most of us know that the culture of convenience comes at a price – it’s now time to stop paying too much for things that are readily available.
Conclusion: The True Cost of Convenience
The cost of convenience affects us all in different ways
This has a knock-on effect on society because it leads to people buying unnecessary things which creates waste; we become dependent on manufactured products.
People follow the culture of convenience because they want to make their lives more convenient. But living too much by this has negative consequences on us and our society.
How do you feel about the convenience culture? Does it end up being more of an inconvenience in the long run? Has the cost of convenience impacted you in any way? Let me know in the comments.