We live in such an interesting time right now. I feel like conscious consumerism is steadily on the rise but yet there’s a whole group of humans who haven’t even heard of it or thought about the way they consume things.
I don’t mean to consume like eating though I feel that could definitely be a part of it.
I like to describe conscious consumerism as “making mindful decisions about what we spend our money, how those items affect people and our planet and how much waste it will produce.”
Naturespath.com describes it as “a way of declaring we can retain the awareness of the power of our purchases no matter what is going on in the world around us.”
When simply googling “conscious consumerism” the word “trend” pops up a lot. Being a conscious consumer is not a trend. It’s a whole new level of mindfulness and quite frankly a lifestyle.
We often hear that money is the root of all evil, but I’d take it one step further and say that consumerism and greed are. And they all go hand in hand.
But speaking from experience you don’t have to be rich or have a lot of money to over-consume. Over-consumption can lead to debt and a whirlwind of other problems.
When looking at advertising every product is sold as something we need. Something that will make our lives better and something we’d be foolish not to have.
We are blind to these tactics and don’t even notice them anymore. I mean, have you ever bought something, never used it and find yourself months later wondering “why did I even buy this?”. It was supposed to make your life better after all.
The rate of consumption is running us broke and killing our planet and hurting people. There is no pretty way to say it. Consumerism is ugly and leaves almost everyone in its path seriously hurt.
Think about it: the more we consume, the more we demand things. The more we demand things, the more quickly it needs to be produced. The quicker something needs to be produced, the more resources are spent and people aren’t paid.
We need to break the cycle. We need to become content with what we have and we need to learn how to make mindful decisions for each purchase we make.
How to become a conscious consumer:
1. Start purchasing ethically and sustainably made items
When purchasing clothing or really any items look for something that was made ethically and sustainably.
Ethical means that the people who made the item were treated fairly, have safe working conditions and were paid a living wage. Sustainably made items are simply made with the planet in mind. i.e not abusing resources and using excess plastic/fake materials.
If you can’t find something made this way, purchase the best quality you can find to ensure the item lasts a very long time.
2. If the price seems too good to be true, it is
Speaking of clothing and buying things ethically made, Walmart always has crazy deals of like $4 shirts and don’t even get me started on how low forever21’s prices are.
You might initially think that it’s an amazing deal but it’s time to put your conscious consumerist hat on and know that with prices that low, the hands that made it we’re most likely only paid a few sense and the article itself is made from fake materials.
I know it can seem frustrating to switch your mindset especially when it comes to the price of something. We’re going from purchasing 10 $4 shirts to one $40 shirt KNOWING that not only will it last but no blood was shed to make it.
3. Ask yourself a series of questions before each purchase
You want to make each purchase you make as thoughtful and thorough as possible. The best way I’ve found to do this is by asking myself a few questions before each purchase. Your questions can vary based on your own standards but here are a few of mine:
- Do I really need?
- How often will I actually use/wear it?
- How was it made?
- Where was it sourced?
These questions are a bit in-depth but I have been doing this for a few years now and these are the standards I make my purchases with.
But like I said, make your own questions. Just two or three, write them down on your phone until you’ve asked them so many times you remember them!
4. Purchase clothing on a need-to-have basis
The fast-fashion mentality is trend-driven. I won’t talk about it too much here because I have lots of posts on it.
Related: What is slow fashion and why it matters
But one of the biggest problems with fast fashion is that it’s purely trend-driven. A new trend pops up and we rush to buy it and then in two weeks it’s out of fashion and a new trend shows up.
A huge way to really become a conscious consumer is to throw out the trend mentality and buy only clothes you need and clothes that are designed to last for years to come.
5. Thrift everything
From clothing to furniture to electronics to dishware, make your first stop the thrift shop. (See how that rhymes?)
The most sustainable option is the thing that already exists. By purchasing second hand you’re not creating a demand for new things to be made which uses excess resources and labor.
Not only that but you’re saving these items from ending up in a landfill and creating extra waste.
6. Ditch the mindset of “retail therapy”
Gone are the days of “retail therapy” and “shopping sprees”. Like seriously, we as a society need to move past them.
Retail therapy is just a waste of money for a momentary mood boost. We end up with things we don’t need or want and those things become waste.
That is mindless consumerism. The exact opposite of what we want.
I don’t want to get too deep into the phycology behind it all but I think in order to move past retail therapy, shopping sprees and mindlessly spending money we need to address what’s really going on inside.
People shop to fill a void, I’ve been there. Now when I’m feeling down I turn to other activities instead of spending money. And I wouldn’t have ever changed these habits until I decided to become a conscious consumer.
7. Place value on other things
When we stop and questions our spending and consuming habits, we analyze why we spend the way we do. And like I just mentioned in the point above, it can some times be to fill a void.
A way to move past this and truly become a conscious consumer is to start placing value on other things. Place value on time spent with loved ones, on experiences, on traveling.
Money doesn’t just have to buy you things that take up space. It can buy you things that take up space in your heart, in your soul. And when those things are filled there isn’t much room left for material things.
I encourage you to take a look at the people in your life and the experiences you want to have and place your value there.
Minimalism: 29 things I quit buying
Becoming a conscious consumer doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s all about taking those extra steps and mindfully thinking about each and every purchase and the impact it has.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post and it gave you some helpful tips on how to become a conscious consumer!
As always, please don’t forget to share this post and make sure to follow me on Instagram for daily low waste living inspiration!
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