conscious consumer

How to Be a Conscious Consumer?

I generally consider myself an optimistic person, and, like most people I think, I had high hopes for 2021. It didn’t start with a massive bang for us, but it did with two movies, which I always consider a good start of the year.

However, four days into the New Year BJ announced yet another national lockdown, which wasn’t that surprising.

What was though was how long it took him to finally make that decision.

The next day after the announcement it turned out that we needed to buy a new car seat for baby M, because the one we had and lent out, was returned to us broken, though none of the people using it before even bothered to tell us. (What the hell peeps?)

Photo by the blowup on Unsplash

On the 6th. of January our dishwasher broke down and even though we are waiting for the repair wizard to do his magic, we might need to replace it rather sooner than later.

This morning (I’m writing this on the 9th of January) our car’s engine started flashing and the car wouldn’t start. Luckily the insurance sent a really nice lad, who jump-started the car, gave Big M. a few tips and maybe, just maybe, we only need to replace the battery.

I have to say that none of the obstacles above has fazed me in any way. I wasn’t panicking, I wasn’t worried, and I indeed wasn’t scared that we didn’t have enough money to cover all the unforeseen expenses. 

However, that wouldn’t have been the case, if I only saw money through my consumer’s eyes. But because I managed to shift my perception of money and what it can really offer, I kept my spending low and savings pretty high, compared to what I used to do in the past.

Still, there is a long way for me to go to get my consumerism in line with environmental standards.

Global overconsumption needs to go, and it’s not even a choice anymore but a necessity if we are to leave this planet inhabitable for our kids and grandkids.

To keep up with my new sustainability goals, I decided to look into ways and solutions to transform my household into a more sustainable place.

Plastic waste — reduce plastic waste in any possible way. I’m going to start with my bathroom. I’ve been slowly replacing plastic non-recyclable toothbrushes, soaps and creams. But I know I need to push even harder. This year I plan to replace all the everyday products I have in the bathroom, either with re-usable containers or find substitute products in glass containers.

I’ve been using the Ecover refillable bottles for years. However, it’s still hard to find local shops that carry those products at affordable prices. I’m hoping that it will change this year so I won’t have to consider the price only. I think Ecover should do much more to make refillable stations accessible and affordable to the general public. How can the refilling of one container be more expensive than buying a new product in a new plastic container? Ecover, you need to step up!

Plastic waste in the kitchen is my worst enemy. We eat lots of fruits and a majority of them, for some unknown reason, come in extra plastic packaging in the UK. Over the past few months, I’ve been buying more loose fruits and veggies. The supermarkets are also making a change; it’s a slow one, but finding loose kiwis, lemons, mangos, or pears is becoming more common.

Regardless of those efforts, I still end up with masses of plastic from other fruits and veggies.

My currently most pressing thing is to buy re-usable wraps to use, instead of the cling film, which I simply hate but my hubby seems to have a love affair with.

We mostly cook ourselves so hardly ever buy takeaway or ready-made food. However, if we buy ready-made food, it has to come in a recyclable box for me. Luckily a lot of shops started offering that option.

Fix it — last year I bought zero clothes for myself. Z E R O. Sure, I bought clothes for my children but nothing for me. I got some bits for Christmas, but I didn’t go to shops to hunt for bargains. Instead, I decided to tidy up all the clothes I kept at my parents’ house.

For years, I’ve been sending clothes to my parents because they have space. But when I finally displayed all the clothing on the floor, I wanted to cry, thinking about all those amazing experiences I missed out on, because I spent money on a garment that I hardly used, which only created clatter and gathered dust.

I’ve decided to stop buying; I solemnly apologized to some pieces that I thought were out of style (Duh…), I gave some bits to friends, but most are still waiting for re-distribution.

This experience got me wondering why, instead of fixing our clothes, we instantly dispose of them, even if some may be our favourite pieces. My granny used to fix clothes all the time. Everyone’s granny did that when I was growing up.

So, in the spirit of change this year I’m going to fix my beloved cardigan, which has a few tears but is in no way ready to be disposed of. I remember when in primary school they tried to teach us how to fix and mend things, but I was too busy with teenage life to learn.

Luckily, YouTube will surely show me the way.

Also, I’m going to re-purpose clothing that isn’t good enough to give away. If you have any inspiration or ideas for that, please share.

Minimalistic life choices — I started implementing that philosophy early on in my adult life, but it still didn’t save me from making lots of bad decisions. I always preferred to spend more money on good quality goods, such as clothing and kitchenware. But at the same time, I did stupidly buy-in Gap every time they had something on sale, and they often did.

Minimalistic life choices allow people to focus more on quality than quantity. Focusing on the longevity should be our priority. Yes, of course, cheap throwaway goods might be fun, but it doesn’t help anyone, charities cannot sale it, and often those things are unrecyclable.

I like having clothes and house/kitchenware that last for longer than a season, and I don’t care what the fashion influencers say about trends, be aware who pays them.

More people should start to buy for life, not for fashion. If you feel pressured to buy and spend, try to wait a day or two before deciding. The urge will more often than not pass.

I’m surely going to make 2021 count in my life as a conscious consumer. I don’t want the short time I have on Earth to be masterminded by marketers from offices in Paris, London or New York.