Can you say that you are a conscious consumer?
It’s not easy for people to claim. Especially as Black Friday, the infamous and unofficial holiday of sales and consumerism, has just passed.
And that is because of the way we have been programmed to see material items and their worth since we were young. The meaning we have attached to material items, money, and possessions has become definitive of who we are, and it’s as if we have forgotten what it is that really makes us human.
As the holiday season approaches and massive shopping begins to take place, my first thought automatically goes to “Here we go again. The Western materialistic mentality at it again.” I’m not saying I’m perfect though – I have had my share of fast fashion, impulsive, and unconscious purchases during my younger years. But during the latter parts of my college career, out of both frugality and my love for the environment, I saw the benefits of being a conscious consumer.
Emotionally, you feel more free if you do not allow items to define who you are, to define your self esteem, or to define success. Additionally, a benefit to the environment, which is one of my biggest driving points, is that we make use and give a longer life to the items that already exist in our world. Rather than thinking we need new items to be made to satisfy our needs, we can shop secondhand, borrow from a friend, or repurpose items we already have.
Now, I know that Black Friday can have negative connotations, but I believe there are definitely sales and purchases you can make that are intentional and conscious for the bettering of oneself, the world, and ethical businesses doing good. For example, Small Business Saturday just passed, a time where we can highlight the small businesses we support and help spread the word of their positive impact. Additionally, Cyber Monday deals can be applicable to digital products that I know many bloggers, coaches, and influential people are posting about, as these can be items that can help further your pursuit toward happiness, passion-filled action, and aligned living. So I’m not here to boycott shopping or to boycott consumerism – I’m just here to tell you to notice our habits of hyper-consumerism and to be intentional with what purchases we do make (and how we go about it).
Benefits of being a conscious consumer can be a whole different post, but for this one, I want to highlight the habits, the cognitive and subconscious things we do, if we are consciously consuming anything in this world.
Conscious consumers ask themselves, “Do I really need this?”
Or is this serving a purpose that ultimately serves another person’s possible opinion of me? This is a big reason for why I stopped buying cute things just so I could post them online. Yes, they made me momentarily happy, but my intentions were unconsciously serving people I wanted to notice me. And that was a habit I wanted to break and replace with a more positive one, such as my next point:
Conscious consumers wait.
Instead of impulsively buying something when they see it, they put it off for a couple of weeks and come back to it. If the same joy comes from it, or if they realize they truly need the item, then they purchase it. But only after exhausting all other options. Which brings me to say:
Conscious consumers are resourceful.
If they are in need of something that is usually a one time purchase, they ask if anyone else may have it so they can borrow it. There shouldn’t be any shame in asking – what’s the worst that can happen? If you feel that people are judging you for asking, then that says more about them than it says about you. So please, remember that.
Resourceful can be one of the “r’s” of eco-conscious living, and some of my other favorites that are incorporated in being resourceful are “resuing” and “repurposing.” “Repairing” is another good one to keep in mind because you can always ask your friends if they are able to, or know anyone, that can help fix an item you may have broke so you don’t feel this need to go out and purchase a new item. Let your items live a life of longevity on this planet.
Conscious consumers make a list.
I’ve seen people with this habit, and it does wonders for them. I personally don’t make a list since I never really want to shop in general, but it’s a great tool for understanding what things you’ve been wanting on your radar. And it keeps you accountable to staying track on your list. Going back to my point on waiting, some people put it on their list and wait an arbitrary amount of time (let’s say, 3 weeks). With this list and rule in place, this person is only able to buy things on their list, if they have waited the amount of time needed since they added it on. Genius!
Conscious consumers think of the greater impact beyond themselves.
This is a huge one that not everyone may do, but it is common for those who are extremely conscious. Personally, I aim to live low impact and want to ensure that the products in my life encourage purchasing locally and living slowly. A piece of fruit from Mexico may taste good, but the resources it took to get here may not have been worth it for the sake of the environment. Same with clothing or other items made in different countries. It’s okay to maybe get them occasionally as a treat, but not as a necessary purchase because it encourages the continuation of it in the market and relinquishes the visibility of local products and food.
I know that being a conscious consumer is not a process that happens overnight. I, even as someone who advocates for this type of living, slip up sometimes. And that’s okay. We’re not perfect – we’re human.
But the little things we do matter and these shifts can make a massive change in our society, slowly but surely. The ripple effect will demonstrate how important it is to address our consumer mindset and to work toward a better way of living in harmony with the resources we surround ourselves with.
Do you want to work more toward being a conscious consumer? Let me know below if you bought anything intentional or consciously this Black Friday season. I’d love to know 🙂