Date of Award

Spring 5-14-2018

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Environmental Studies


John Van Buren


This paper examines our consumerist society through past and present data, business practice, supply chain, economics, and its impact on human and environmental well-being. Upon examination, the thesis aims to suggest change through social indicators and policy. It answers numerous questions surrounding both the problems and solutions associated with environmental policy. These include: the question as to what exactly is social and environmental impact investing? What are current changes impacting humanity’s ecological footprint? Why does society need to make changes? Most importantly, it assesses how we can change? Chapter 1 explores the past and what led to an increase of American consumption, holiday spending, credit card debt, and waste, while identifying the transformation of Christmas traditions, Thanksgiving Black Friday sales, and Cyber Monday from holidays of religion and kinship to consumer-driven holidays. Chapter 2 dives into business strategies relationship to consumer behavior. It analyzes the impact of technology progression and social media on new consumer behaviors in the United States and reflects on current consumer behavior as well as marketing research methods and strategies. Chapter 3 discusses millennials and generation Z interests and characteristics and how exactly that translates to the new work environment. Furthermore, it discusses opportunities for business to adjust to the new consumer behavior in the digital age. Exploring various businesses interacting with the final step of a supply chain: is waste. Additionally, it analyzes show investors are preparing for the changes in the market and the increasing interest of reducing the depletion of resources in the fashion industry. Chapter 4 elaborates on the previous chapters, focusing on consumption, behavior, and profit through an economic lens. It discusses resources, normative theories of rational choice, globalization, trade-offs, and marginal social cost and benefit on present social issues. This chapter is the main driving force for proving that sustainable practices do not destroy economic growth and profit. It presents an opportunity for change in our current society to increase competition, productivity, and technological advancement to increase overall well-being of the Earth and its citizen. Chapter 5 ties in the relationship of consumerism and the environment to achieve a better future without the sacrifice of property, wealth, and well-being.