Indeed there are powerful cultural influences to continue consuming even if it requires going into debt, which happens frequently. If so many people shoulder the unpleasant cycle of indebtedness in order to continue consuming, it seems a shift in the entire paradigm of capitalism based on distant people and the abstract next generation is unlikely. However as an individual who has a deeper understanding of the consequences of wastefulness and pollution, I have a greater ethical obligation to make conscious decisions regarding what I use and discard.
There is a deep and vested interest to keep Americans consuming goods and services that they do not need strictly for survival purposes. The growth of the economy depends on many people spending money which drives industry to create more consumables. The most successful marketers are able to tap into and manipulate the aspects of identity that are significant to our sense of well-being. If a dramatic drop in consumption occurred, real and present negative consequences will occur, including many people losing their own job. This is a short term problem compared to the consequences of environmental change; however, drastic change in the average life style of most Americans would cause a lot of unhappiness.
A fundamental change would have to occur that shifted economic models away from