Chapter 1 / Sharing Stories
A Conscious Consumer
Words by: Hannah Phang, Futerra
Mindful, conscious, and sustainable are all frequent visitors to the modern person’s lexicon. It is being brought to every aspect of our lives from food and fashion to transportation and decor. But they all have various definitions so as people who are trying to be more considerate with our purchases, what do these really mean and what does this look like?
Shopping has become a mindless and addictive activity. Some people have even made Amazon purchases in their sleep. Consuming feels passive and disconnected. But today, our purchases can have a global impact and is a showcase of our values. It is a vote for the types of organizations we want to support. Being a consumer and an active citizen is increasingly becoming one and the same.
Although our purchasing decisions may hold greater responsibility, it shouldn’t feel daunting or guilt-inducing. It can feel incredibly empowering to know that your purchasing decisions are having a meaningful impact.
When beginning your journey of being a thoughtful purchaser, there are some key questions that can help guide your decisions.
Do I need or love this?
Before clicking to make a purchase or handing over your credit card, just take a breath and ask yourself if you really need this item. And not in the survival sense of need, but will this item fulfill you in some way and be meaningful to you. Another way to look at it is, do you really love this item. Put your Marie Kondo hat on in the store and consider if the item will give you joy, will you love the item for years to come, and can it grow with you?
This is a great first step because it asks you to consider your relationship to things and whether the things you buy will end up as disposable or meaningful.
Would I be proud to tell the story of this item?
If you want to take the next step and go a bit deeper, consider how the item was made, who made it, and what it is made of. If it is a challenge to find out this information, it is a pretty easy way to tell that the company who made it doesn’t want you to know. In the years to come, we will find more and more products that have stories that will leave us feeling inspired and proud to wear them rather than embarrassed.
This question is an invitation to start thinking about the journey your item has been on before it got into your hands and if that journey is one you support.
Do I want to support the work this company does?
In addition to thinking just about the products themselves, our purchases are also votes for the types of companies we want to be successful. It’s worth looking a bit deeper into the companies you are buying from to see what they are doing to be a valuable member of society. How are they using their power, influence, resources, and expertise for good?
Businesses play a major role in the progress of our communities and the world so being considerate of the companies that you put your support behind every time you make a purchase is important.
"To change the world, first imagine a better one."
There is no such thing as being a fully sustainable or conscious consumer. We are each at different stages of the journey but what is important is that you are on a path to acknowledge the impact that your purchasing decisions have and potentially making different decisions based what you want your impact to be. It’s as easy as taking a moment to consider before choosing to click ‘buy.’