In this post we are going to shed some light on what a conscious consumer is.
We’ll provide some tips on how to become one, as well as how this concept relates to minimalism and mindless (unconscious) consumerism.
Let’s get started..
When you reach a point where spending, clutter and waste are getting out of hand, you may look to a minimalist lifestyle as the solution.
I can personally say this was the case for me.
Because of this, I decided to learn more about what this minimalism concept had to offer. I began to study blogs and books on the topic.
These resources on minimalism explained how living a simple life, one free from clutter, could bring about happiness and peace of mind.
I wanted to see these benefits in my life, however, something about putting the label of 'minimalist' on myself was not sitting right with me, for whatever reason.
I felt that when I compared myself to others living in this way, I was falling short - or failing - to an extent.
This is when I began to take a look at the principles of minimalism, rather than getting hung up on the label of ‘minimalist’ itself.
I adopted the minimalist mindset. I saw the traits I wanted to take away and apply to my life, and ignored everything else.
It was during this time that I discovered a specific practice I felt I could greatly benefit from - becoming a conscious consumer.
Consumerism vs Minimalism
In a funny way, there are actually some similarities between consumerism and minimalism. The main one being that when pursued to the extreme, they both can have some issues.
Downsides of Consumerism
Being a consumer is part of life in the modern world. There is nothing inherently wrong with it. However aimless, mindless consuming can become taxing, and draining in many ways.
When it comes to mindless consumerism, some of the issues you may run into are rather obvious, but still worth pointing out and bringing awareness towards.
Some of these issues include:
- The feeling of never having enough
- Feeling the need to keep up with trends and fads
- The anxiety of keeping up with others
- An accumulation of clutter / items you don’t feel serve you
- Overall sensory overload and overwhelm
Bringing awareness to some of these issues is the first step to overcoming them. When you are aware, you can become intentional about the purchases you make.
Downsides of Minimalism
We have found that minimalism, as with consumerism, only becomes a real issue when taken too far.
Some of the downsides to minimalism are things such as:
- Attempting to live as an extreme minimalist - which can lead to the feeling that the lifestyle itself is unattainable and unsustainable
- Minimalism tends to put a lot of the focus on the amount of possessions you own - as opposed to your overall well-being and quality of life
- When taken too far, you might feel as if you are losing some of your individuality, especially when it comes to your unique style, interests and hobbies
Again, a lot of these issues can arise from trying to take an ‘all or nothing’ approach. This is why we suggest living from a set of helpful principles based in minimalist practices.
One of those practices being - becoming a conscious consumer.
The Conscious Consumer
A conscious person is defined as an individual having an awareness of one's environment and one's own existence, sensations, and thoughts. Someone who is aware, mentally perceptive or alert; awake.
With that, a conscious consumer is one who is bringing the power of mindful awareness to their purchases.
Conscious consumers appreciate quality, are not wasteful or frivolous, and they keep in mind who they are as an individual.
When shopping as a Conscious Consumer, one will keep in mind...
- Do I need it, or do I have something similar already?
- Do I need to declutter or donate older items before I bring in new ones?
- Will it pair with other items I already have in my wardrobe?
- Is this something I truly see myself wearing or do I just want it because it's 'trendy'?
- Do I have a purpose for this item?
Being a conscious consumer is also about knowing yourself.
It's about finding, knowing and owning your personal style, and then shopping within those parameters.
It's about learning what looks good on you: colors, patterns, cuts, sizes, etc. It's also about where you see value, and the quality levels that are acceptable for you with each potential purchase.
Being a conscious consumer means becoming a curator.
Curate Your Environment
Regularly asking yourself the questions listed above (before shopping) is a great start, but you can also create an environment that encourages you to be a conscious consumer.
By curating this kind of environment, you’ll be able to stop your bad habits before they start. A few ways you can do this would be to:
- Unsubscribe from store sales newsletters that entice you to shop unnecessarily
- Unfollow flashy social influencers that make you feel as if you don’t have enough
- Only shop for what YOU truly want + WHAT you need + WHEN you need it
By curating an environment that doesn’t pressure you to consume, it’s much easier to build this into your lifestyle.
Conscious Consuming Simplifies Life
Becoming a conscious consumer has drastically simplified my life in so many ways. For starters, getting dressed is easier because I only own what I know I will wear.
Shopping is easier because I know what I like and what I don’t - I also don’t buy what I don’t need. By making quality purchases, items last longer, so frequent shopping is not necessary.
Also, keep in mind conscious consuming is more than the consumption of physical items, or how we spend our money. Becoming conscious of our spending is just the start. It’s also about how we spend our other resources as well.
It’s becoming mindful of the media we consume. It’s becoming aware of how we spend our time, how we spend our energy, how we spend our lives.
Just like we would notice wasteful spending, or high vs low quality when it comes to our items - we also begin to see wasted time, energy, and quality levels in our lives.
We notice what’s truly important, and what is not.
We can then spend our efforts on the quality things in life. Things such as time with family and friends, learning something new, creating, exploring, time in nature.
Even just taking a few moments to appreciate everything you already own.
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Creating A Simple Life
It’s about appreciating these simple moments, taking time to slow down, and consciously choosing what we allow into our life. This is why I seek to live a simple life.
I feel, at the core, this is what we’re all really after. It’s just that other things tend to get in the way, and complicate what is truly simple.
To me, living a simple life is about mindful awareness, intention, and balance. It’s about making time for the things that matter most.
Minimalism is a journey from compulsion to consciousness, from consumerism to common sense.
What about you?
What are some ways you intend to consume more mindfully?
Leave a comment below!