Your phone lights up and chimes gently. You see you’ve received an email notification, you open it. It’s one of your favourite stores sending you a 20% discount code for your next purchase.
Another ding: A person you idolize just shared a sponsored post. While scrolling through you see a high school acquaintance, who you’ve always envied, posted a photo showing their seemingly perfect life.
We’re in a world where can’t simply escape the trill of our devices. It feels like every ten minutes we’re receiving a new notification. Whether it’s from social media, the news or our emails. A constant influx of “look what I bought,” “buy this now,” “look at my life!” messages bombard us.
If you feel exhausted and overwhelmed, you’re not alone.
Becoming a conscious consumer will help your bank account, your mental health and ultimately our world.
While your bank account will see the immediate results. Our planet and your mental health will take some time to adjust. Things are worse before they get better.
Practical ways you can become a conscious consumer:
Unsubscribe from all promotional emails
Yes, all of them. That includes clothing, lifestyle products and everything in between. I absolutely love Well.ca. But guess what? I don’t get their promotional emails. I don’t want the temptation to purchase.
Without the immediate temptation you will be less likely to make impulse purchases. Impulse buying will make you feel better in the short term, but in the long run you’re a monkey to the corporate machine.
Unfollow people that don’t bring joy
I know you read that like, wait…what?
What does unfollowing anyone have to do with conscious consumption? Well it’s a comparison thing.
You’re less likely to feel the need to impress people who you’re comfortable with and who don’t make you feel badly about your life.
This includes celebrities, popular influencers and even your acquaintances. They may make you feel jealousy. And that’s not helping your mental health.
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Track what you want and why
I have a rule for myself: If I still want it in 30 days I will purchase it.
Instead of adding an item to your cart, write it in the notepad on your phone. Write why you want it at this particular moment. Is it solely because it is on sale? How will it improve your life? Have you been wanting this particular item for at least 30 days? Will it make you want to dance?
These are all questions you should ask yourself before you make a purchase.
It will take time to train yourself to analyze everything you’re buying and you’re likely to make hiccups along the way. Don’t feel badly if you make mistakes. No one is perfect.
Being a Conscious Consumer is Better for the world
Note: There is no such thing as ethical consumption within capitalism.
The less impulsive purchases we make, the less we exploit workers in developing countries.
In most retail industries there is a markup of at least double the cost.
Which means a $5 t-shirt might have cost the company $2.50. That’s shipping, materials and a worker’s wage.
A sustainable world cannot exist without social equity. Therefore by opting not to purchase a cheaply produced item, you are showing that everyone deserves fair wages.
Calculate how many hours you have to work to earn an item
When I was a minimum wage employee at a Canadian coffee shop, if I wanted a $30 item I knew it would be 3 hours of my life to earn it.
Even an employee on salary has to work a certain number of hours to earn their pay. Find out how many hours you’d have to trade to afford the item in question.