"But as much as we have been bombarded with media messages about the pleasures of consumerism, so there has been a growing sense of its costs – a realisation that the great national spending spree is both economically unsustainable and inimical to a healthy and happy life. This feeling may be detected in the rise of what the social theorist Kate Soper had described as 'alternative hedonism’ – a recognition of the pleasures of slow, rather than fast, food; of simple living, a life less dominated by the car, air travel and the computer screen, a respite from the anxieties of status and from being judged not by what you are but by what you own.
In this light, could the recession actually prove, in some way, to be a benefit? A salutary shock to a system that is not working, like the first twinges of chest pain that tell you that you really should slow down if you want to avoid a heart attack. An opportunity to reassess our attitudes to consumerism, and to discover that as we economise and buy fewer things, that we don’t actually miss them, and didn’t really need them in the first place."