The Postconsumers Glossary

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It dawned on us that we throw a lot of words around without truly giving you definitions of what they are. This month, we decided to focus our energy on putting together the complete Postconsumers glossary for the mainstream. Take a scan, we think you’ll find it useful and fun! Of course, sharing it and adapting it for your own perspective is always appreciated. Love to pin or share images? Scroll to the bottom for a complete image version of this glossary.

Addictive Consumerism – a term used by medical and other professionals to describe the increasing human dependency and entrapment created by most acquisition in a culture that has not cultivated a balanced sense of sufficiency. Rather than an individual “consumer addiction,” it refers to the societal malady.

See Also: What is Consumer Addiction?

Affluenza – a term in popular culture (book, film and other multimedia) that is similar to the societal malady referred to as “addictive consumerism” by medical and other professionals. A socially-transmitted “virus” that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, infecting people with the insatiable quest for ever-increasing money and stuff.

Better Than Black Friday – the Postconsumer mantra for avoiding the consumer-oriented early holiday rush and unnatural retail patterns of holiday shopping events on the Friday after Thanksgiving by embracing more fulfilling activities.

See Also: Postconsumers Better Than Black Friday Gallery

Be Your Own Brand – a phrase circulated by Postconsumers in an effort to help move society beyond addictive consumerism. The phrase encourages individuals to create their own individual style, personality, and sense of being rather than simply adopt the brand identities supplied to them by consumer marketers.

Big Box Stores – large, discount retail outlets for either general or specific product purchases that encourage addictive consumer behavior with low prices and extensive product selection. Typically, big box stores participate in both environmentally and socially harmful practices.

See Also: Big Box Stores Explained

Carbon Footprint – the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc. Postconsumers work as much as possible to attempt to reduce their carbon footprint.

See Also: 10 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Climate Change – We felt as though we had to include this one since our federal government has deleted it from its official website and agenda. Climate change currently is the historically abrupt, likely manmade, overall warming and changing of our natural environment in ways that make food security and human sustainability difficult to maintain unless we rapidly reduce our carbon footprint and emissions moving forward.

Clutter  – The accumulation of “stuff” that you neither need nor use so that it not only creates space and mess issues in your home but also impacts your emotional state and daily stress level. Clutter can occur both in physical and mental spaces.

See Also: The Postconsumers Clutter Hub

Collaborative Consumption – a system or arrangement in which participants share access to products or services instead of having individual ownership. Car-share programs are the most common contemporary example.

Consumption – the using up of a resource, such as an environmental resource or energy resource. Also a wasted disease. Ironically, the two may ultimately create each other.

Consumer Season – an annual period of time beginning with traditional back-to-school season in August and extending through Valentine’s Day during which retailers and marketers place a heavier emphasis on incentivizing consumer actions and purchases.

See Also: Consumer Season Explained

Eco-Fashion – any type of clothing or fashion that claims to embrace sustainability and environmentally responsible practices. While a fashion choice may be environmentally friendly, it is still part of the overall consumer cycle.

See Also: Is Eco-Fashion Really Environmentally Friendly?

Eco-Friendly – the basic definition of eco-friendly is simply not harmful to the environment. Typically, the term refers to the materials and practices that go into manufacturing, packaging, shipping and generally creating a product.

Emotional Stress – the specific psychological and mental duress that comes from not only feeling as though one does not have adequate financial resources but also feeling the need to participate in career acceleration and increased work hours to earn more in order to consume more. Also the specific psychological and mental duress caused by consistently feeling unworthy or anxious due to not having the expected material possessions or other causes.

See Also: Postconsumers Stress Reduction Tips

Ethical Consumer – People who, while they do participate in the addictive consumer economy to one degree or another, do so by selecting products and vendors that support an ethical stance and set of philosophies about social concerns, environmentalism and global human rights.

Financial Stress – the lifestyle challenges created by living beyond one’s means in an effort to consume more and purchase more due to societal and media messages relating possessions to status and self-worth.

See Also: Postconsumers Budget Tips

Food Security – The ability to have enough nutritious food on the table to eat. While in the current era this is primarily a socio-economic issue, climate-change and the growth of corporate food, GMOS and consumerization make food security an issue that is due to impact the world as a whole within our lifetimes.

Get Satisfied – either promulgating sexual gratification or, of course, promulgating the Postconsumers web course, book, cartoon series and game show that are titled Get Satisfied.

See Also: The Get Satisfied Interactive Handbook

Green Collar – Green collar is an adjective used to describe any job that relates to environmentalism, clean energy or sustainability. In the discussion of the growth of the American economy, it has been noticeably absent despite the fact that many countries are pulling their economic resources out of fossil fuels and creating long-term job growth through clean energy.

Greenwashing – the act of marketing a product or organization as being environmentally or eco-friendly by selectively presenting information in a way that supports such claims when, in fact, other practices of the company or product are harmful to the planet.

Heirloom – an item that has been passed down in a family or close group from generation to generation. In some cases, the designated status as an heirloom can make the item exempt from the label of “clutter” and can make emotional attachment to it valid. The key is to recognize that the emotional attachment is not to the heirloom itself but rather to what it represents.

See Also: Is It an Heirloom or Is It Clutter?

Hoarding – a diagnosable medical and psychological condition also known as compulsive hoarding and compulsive hoarding syndrome which may be an extension of obsessive compulsive disorder. Hoarding is the excessive collection of items without the ability to discard them. In western consumer society where an emotional relationship is encouraged between individuals and their “stuff,” it has reached epidemic proportions.

See Also: What Created the Hoarding Epidemic?

Impulse Purchase – a technique used by marketers to increase consumer activity by activating impulse emotional triggers. Typically, impulse purchase marketing in retail environments is based on items presented at checkout and online by one-click shopping and related product features.

See Also: Online Shopping Traps

Informed Purchasing – the act of making purchases while also understanding the influence that addictive consumerism, social expectations and the consumer media machine have on you. Making purchases while you are in control rather than letting the above factors control you, a prerequisite to finding the satisfaction of enough for today.

Keeping Up with the Joneses verb -the act of purchasing more and more and more as a way to gain or maintain social status by both accepting and propagating the belief that what you own determines your success and importance in life.

Live More, Buy Less – the act of finding the joy and satisfaction in life by actually living it rather than manifesting importance, emotion or excitement into “stuff.”

Living with Less – the idea of letting go of “stuff” and reducing excess. At Postconsumers, we believe that the definition of less is a uniquely individual one that actually results in the accumulation of more satisfaction and joy.

See Also: Creating Your Own Definition of Less

Luxury Marketing – This is a type of marketing, also sometimes referred to as “aspirational marketing,” that positions a product to be at a higher price point and gives it a sense of exclusivity in order to appeal not only to shoppers who want to promote an image of affluence but also to shoppers who aspire to reach that level of affluence. It is particularly dangerous when used to craft individual identity.

Materialism – defined as a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual and other values, materialism has gone beyond a tendency and become an epidemic in contemporary society.

Media Diet – the act of consciously reducing the amount of digital, audio and print media that a person is exposed to on a daily basis in order to not only reduce stress and gain mental clarity but also limit pressure from the consumer media machine.

See Also: How to Consume Fewer Digital Resources

Media Free (or Media-Less) – learning to live without mass media – or with less mass media – in order to reduce not only your exposure to consumer media machine messaging but also to reduce stress by eliminating noise clutter in your brain.

See Also: 100 Things To Do Instead of Watch TV

Media Machine – the systematic use of channels used to convey consumer and other messages to society, including radio, print publications, digital and internet media, television and an increasing number of digital display advertising units in stores and exterior locations.

See Also: What is the Consumer Media Machine?

M.I.N.E. – More Is Not Enough. This mantra (and uncanny acronym) is the unfortunate mental state that leads to unattainable goals of consumption and purchasing.

See Also: Postconsumers M.I.N.E. Cartoon

Minimalism – minimalism originally referred to a type of art or design aesthetic that uses negative space as its primary component. Today, minimalism often refers to its more Postconsumer related definition of choosing to let go of “stuff” and instead live with only the bare essentials.

See Also: What Is the Difference Between a Postconsumer and a Minimalist?

Personal Less – determining one’s own line of comfort between society’s addictive consumerism and a place of satisfaction and contentment. The Postconsumer version of personal best.

Postconsumerism – the policy and practice of gradually moving beyond society’s addictive consumerism and toward the satisfaction of enough as each person defines it.

See Also: Well, pretty much everything on our site 

Retail Therapy – A phrase that implies that the act of shopping and buying “stuff” can make people feel better when they are struggling emotionally or depressed. However, by the definition of therapy there is no such thing as retail therapy. Retail therapy only provides a temporary bandaid increasing dependence and does not address long-term solutions to emotional or mental health struggles.

Screen Time – the amount of time that an individual spends looking at a screen, including televisions, desktops, laptops, smart phones, tablets and digital advertisements. The extent of screen time that an individual experiences is in direct proportion to the amount of consumer media machine messaging that he or she receives.

See Also: Media Diet Tips

Self-Determination – the ability of every individual to choose for him or herself, outside of the influence of society, the media or external expectations, what their goals, philosophies and beliefs are. For some, that means moving beyond the culture’s addictive consumerism.

Sex – just kidding, can’t imagine how this got into the glossary!

Sharing Economy –  A form of consumerism where individuals, rather than owning items, contribute to a pool of sharing an item. Common current examples include car-sharing companies such as ZipCar and clothing sharing programs such as Rent the Runway. Unless they are platform coops, many of the companies still exploit workers and consumers.

Shop Small while it would be easy to think that this refers to buying a minimal amount, shopping small is in fact the act of choosing to purchase from local vendors or independent stores rather than from huge big box stores.

See Also: The Facts About Big Box Stores

Social Consumerism – the collective act of linking identity to “stuff” and ownership of “stuff” as a way to both fit into the norms of and rebel against the societal participation in mass consumerism.

See Also: Taking Control Back from the Consumer Machine


Sustainability – 
dictionary definitions explain sustainable as able to be used without being completely used up and the capacity to endure. For a Postconsumer striving for satisfaction, that relates as much to emotional and mental energy (and financial resources) as it does to environmental resources.

See Also: Postconsumers Environmental Section

Stuff Purge – the act of consciously clearing one’s home or other physical environment of unneeded “stuff” in an effort to reduce the weight and sense of clutter caused by excessive consumerism.

See Also: All Postconsumers Stuff Purge Resources and Tips

The Satisfaction of Enough – the natural bliss and contentment of personally deciding how much is enough for today, whether it’s a little or a lot, and then not going without any aspect of it.

See Also: What Makes You Happy?

Time Famine – term for the widespread societal problem, often caused by cultural addictive consumerism and attributable to Affluenza authors, which denotes the extreme lack of time for a fulfilling life.

Upcycling  – the act of taking a used item that no longer has a purpose and repurposing it to another goal, often in the format of crafting or arts projects. However, upcycled materials can also be used in construction, home improvement and industrial projects.

Upsells/Cross-Sells  -the products presented to you both in retail shopping and during online shopping that may convince you to either upgrade the product you are about to buy (upsell) or buy additional products to go with the item you’re purchasing (cross-sell). These items are chosen through careful data algorithms to maximize their manipulative impact on consumers.

See Also: Marketing Traps and Tricks

Virtual Capital – Virtual capital is the growing trend (or habit) of trading non-physical entities such as video game points or speculative Bitcoins for physical or non-physical goods. It is reshaping consumerism in that it is giving it a host-world outside of the physical realm.

Did we miss a term that you are dying to know about? Tell us about it. Comment below or tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

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By | 2013-11-01T15:58:13+00:00 November 1st, 2013|Becoming a Postconsumer, Consumerism|1 Comment