I am an American Citizen not just an American Consumer

When did we become American Consumers instead of American Citizens? It irks me when I hear government officials or anyone else refer to me as an American Consumer (well not me specifically, us). Surely there is still more to being an American Citizen than just consuming stuff. 

Citizen versus Consumer

I pulled out my trusty dictionary and looked up words related to citizen versus consumer.

  • citizen – 1. a native or inhabitant of a town or city, 2. a native, inhabitant, or denizen of any place, 3. a member of a state or nation, who owes allegiance to it by birth or naturalization and is entitled to full civil rights
  • Statue of Libertycitizenship – 1. the status or condition of a citizen, 2. the duties, rights, and privileges of this status, 3. a person’s conduct as a citizen
  • civil rights – those rights guaranteed to the individual by the Constitution of the United States and other acts of Congress, esp., the right to vote, exemption from involuntary servitude, and equal treatment of all people with respect to the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property and to the protection of the law


  • consume – 1. to destroy, as by fire; do away with, 2. to use up, to spend wastefully; squander, 3. to eat or drink up; devour, 4. to absorb completely; engross or obsess, 5. to buy for one’s personal needs
  • Wall Street with American Flagsconsumer – a person or thing that consumes; opposed to producer
  • consumerism – 1. the practice and policies of protecting the consumer by publicizing defective and unsafe products, misleading business practices, etc., 2. the consumption of goods and services, 3. the theory that a continual increase in the consumption of goods is sound economically

Earth does not Belong to the United States

Green 3D Dollar SignSure I took economics in school and I know about supply and demand, gross national product, profit margins, quarterly earnings, etc. I realize that purchasing stuff provides jobs. However, I do not believe that buying ever more stuff, some of which we do not need is helpful to us as individuals, families, communities, or as a country.

As American Citizens, we have the right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But not at the expense of others in our country and around the world. Earth does not belong to the United States. It is not ours to deplete and pollute at an ever-increasing rate as we consume more stuff we don’t need.

I want to become a better American and world citizen and not just a consumer. How about you?

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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information and to spark conversation. Her mission is to live more lightly on Earth and to persuade everyone else to do the same.

2 thoughts on “I am an American Citizen not just an American Consumer”

  1. I just returned from OSH as we REALLY did need to make a purchase of a new garden hose. The other one had sprung several serious leaks and was not really repairable. We found a replacement easily and at a good price. The only draw back was that it was made in Taiwan. On the way out of the store I spotted some green, stack, patio chairs. I have been thinking about replacing some we have that are looking kind of shabby that go with our glass patio table. Much to my surprise there was a 2″ x 1″ sticker on each chair that said “MADE IN THE USA”. Wow, I was really excited as seeing our lable on anything is a rare sighting. Unfortunately the chairs are a wee bit small but I was very tempted to buy one since it is the 4th of July and I am so proud to me an American citizen.

  2. I love your simple logic. I too am a proud citizen and do not want to lose that classification to be labeled a consumer. Over the past year, I have made a conscious effort to buy driven by need vs. want and to factor in heavily any “made in the USA” products. I’ll put this book on my list to get at the library.

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