Take a look at all of the things in the room you are currently in. How many of those items did you buy with a real specific intent in your life? How many were impulse buys, things you did not need or things that afterwards you were not entirely sure why you even bought? How many of those purchases were purchases you felt a deep connection with and bought because you knew they would truly enrich your life without adding clutter to it? How many of those purchases were basic necessities, providing food, shelter, or spiritual enrichment within your life?
Today I want to talk about conscious consumerism. Something which I have always taken to heart but more recently in my life have really became focused on. It is often easy for me not to buy things that will not enrich my life but merely add clutter. I tend to buy what I need and those things which offer me something deeper in my life. I do not see the need to buy things I won’t use or that will only clutter my life and I ave few wants. However, I have a few weaknesses. I used to buy lots of lotion, or anything scented for that matter, in excess. In excess because I really only need one bottle of lotion and 1 bottle of shampoo at a time. Lately, I have been working on cleaning out and using these items up. I am doing this partly to de-clutter and partly to switch to more low impact/ zero–waste alternatives that are environmentally friendly after I use up what I have. Recently, I switched to shampoo bars as one example. This entire idea of first using what I have, but more importantly, choosing not to buy what I do not need, and also to buy better alternatives for the environment is conscious consumerism. I am consciously choosing to care for our planet in a world where it is easy to just buy what catches your eye and what you do not need. Often those eyes caching options, or simply not buying consciously means plastic and single use packaging, especially when it comes to groceries.
Conscious consumerism also means choosing what is best for yourself and others. Another reason I switched to shampoo bars is they are better for your hair. If you are a parent or a provider for your family, buying an alternative which is better for everyone and the environment is being a conscious consumer. Eating healthy and buying healthy foods which come in no packaging is another example.
However, you don’t have to live zero waste and minimalist to buy consciously. You just need to be aware and think about your purchases and the impact they have in your life, the lives of others, and on our ecosystem. Start with awareness about what you are buying. Slowly begin to challenge yourself to only buy things when you absolutely need them. Consider this : does it fall into providing shelter, sustenance, or stand to enrich my life. Perhaps, going and buying a good book will personal enrich your life but maybe not another makeup pallet when you already have a drawer full of fifteen. You should pay your bills because they provide shelter but maybe you do not need to have a tv. Perhaps, you are not at that level yet but conscious consumerism will eventually lead you to de-clutter and de-stress. You will be left with the things in your life you truly need and adore. You will have more time with those around you enjoying those things. Mostly importantly, you will save money and be helping out the planet even if your choice i not to buy another pair of the same shoes you already have.
I want to list a few other ways to become a more conscious consumer. Maybe pick two or three things you think you can start working on and see if you notice a difference in your life and your wallet.
- Buy from used clothing stores or only fair trade companies. It is important to know the origin of your clothes. Who made them? What are they made with? What time, energy, resources went into making your clothes? Is the company doing its best to care for the environment? Are the workers paid fair? Etc…etc.. this is a big one. if you are going to buy lots of clothes at least buy them from a good company. An easy way to tell if a company is good is buy researching them. If there is not much on them and it seems uncertain or the photos seem fake, don’t buy from them. Good companies are out there. Thrifting is also a great alternative because you are putting to use what already exist and can find some unique buys. The average Americans throws away over 70 lbs of textile waste a year. Think about that before you buy. know where you buy from. And buy less. Remember you can only wear a few things at once.
- Try to buy bulk, plastic free and zero waste when possible it is a hard adjustment at first but the more you can do the better you are being to yourself ( since healthy food tend to be easier to come buy plastic free), to the environment and to your wallet.
- Try to switch to zero waste or low impact beauty products… perhaps from shampoo bottles to shampoo bars that come in no packaging or just paper.
- Don’t buy what you don’t need or won’t use. If you are not sure if you will wear that skirt or think you maybe only wear it once don’t buy it.
- Bring awareness to others about conscious consumerism. Tell your family not to buy you products in plastic packaging and/ or support companies with bad ethics ( such as testing on animals or poor abuse of their workers). Something which I am currently working on addressing in my own life.
- Support smaller business. This is a good way to give back to your community but also find more unique stuff often.
- Finally, think before purchasing. Always be acutely aware of what you are buying. If you have a huge cart full of food chances are you can not name everything you bought and list a good reason for it. Be aware.
Thank you for reading and I hope that these gives you some ideas on how to start thinking more consciously about what you are purchasing.
Briefly, I just want to say I know I have been absent for quite some time. I am doing well I simply had fallen into this busy rhythm in life. I miss writing and 1withthepen dearly and actually hope to improve this site soon. Until then, I can not promise I will be writing more often but I will do my very best.
Photo: via Pinterest
-Eva M. M