How fortunate are we to be living in a globalized world and have access to whatever we need at our fingertips. At the mere push of a button, we can place an order for a new outfit, have a meal delivered to our home or even find a new date for the evening.
But what does this mean for our society?
We have transitioned to a culture of fast, cheap and ultimately, easy; we’ve become programmed for complete convenience. With the rise of technology and mass production, the market has become infiltrated with low priced goods that have kicked many other businesses out of the market. Our change in consumption has ultimately shifted the way industries operate.
And, it’s not always a bad thing. It’s quite incredible that we can have things done more efficiently. However, for the most part, we fail to recognize the bigger picture consequences and are consuming impulsively to achieve an instant, feel good gratification.
Let’s take the fashion industry for example, it has completely revolutionized since the 1990s. Since then, the United States now produces only two percent of the clothing Americans consumers purchase, down from 50 percent.
But, the fact that production has moved offshore is great for the economies abroad right? Wrong.
Unfortunately, this rise in fast fashion has resulted in the lessening of human life, which was proven by the Bangladesh “Rana Plaza” factory collapse in 2013. Over 1,100 people lost their lives in the most traumatic garment industry incident in history. The desire to pump out more and more clothing trumped the well-being and safety of the workers involved. This is just one example of where we see that the industry is based on our compulsive behavior of wanting more, more, and ever more.
When human life is taken advantage of, we know we have a problem. How often do we stop to consider who made the clothing we buy? Eek, never. We almost always take this for granted because we are so far removed from the actual making of the item.
And how could we refuse purchasing that $10 t-shirt? It’s so cheap AND cute – what a feel-good splurge. It also makes you feel cool wearing something new. But the reality is that each time we buy that $10 tee, we are saying yes to supporting a culture that stands for the lessening of human rights and the integrity of our environment.
I’m sure you’ve heard the Anna Lappe phrase before…
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
Through my understanding and learning of how we as consumers buy, I have become quite an advocate for this phrase. I believe we have incredible power as consumers to push the market in the direction we want it to go in. I mean, demand equals supply, right? So what we demand as consumers is how the market will react, and it will shift accordingly.
But unfortunately, conscious consumption does require something on our part. Research. (My favourite R word in my article, 7 R’s to Being A Conscious Consumer). But, nowadays no one has the time. We are all so busy. Am I right?
Related Post: How to Make More Time to Live Sustainably
I mean, when the Internet page takes an extra second longer than usual to load, we get impatient. We have come to expect things so quickly that there isn’t an extra second to stop or s l o w down. I mean, when was the last time you took an evening to yourself? Took a bath, read or engaged in an activity that nourished your soul?
This huge disconnection to ourselves and the world around us limits our ability to make decisions from a place of mindfulness. How can we even be conscious of what we are buying if we aren’t even giving the time of day to reflect with ourselves?
So, how can we fix this problem and move towards a culture of mindfulness?
Here’s my five step guide to help you do just that.
1. Slow down.
In all areas of your life. In the way you eat, the way you walk, in every way! By slowing down in what you do, this will encourage you to bring more awareness to the present moment. Pause before you make a decision and try to think about the story behind it. Ask yourself questions like “Who made this? Where does it come from? Who was affected in the making of this item?” and reflect before impulsively consuming.
Take time everyday to detach from your phone. This age of social distraction pushes us further from our ability to make decisions that help the world around us. Challenge yourself to be separate from it for the first and last 30 minutes of the day. This way you wont start or end your day with any interference!
3. Do things that nourish your soul.
Go for walks, take baths, sing, play music, dance, read, do anything that makes your heart sing. Why? This puts you in a feel good state that is not the craving for instant gratification, but instead sets the tone for authenticity and helps to align your values with the decisions you make.
This one is huge. At least it has been in my life. I find it actually helps me be present, in the moment and bring more conscious awareness to what I am doing NOW. Often people think that meditating means you don’t have to think at all – which isn’t true. It’s about being able to sit still and let the thoughts just drift away as you feel into the present moment.
5. Know that you MATTER!
We often think that we are so insignificant in the big picture, but I have come to learn that it’s not true. Each and every one of us make up the big collective universe and even the small little things we choose to do have an impact! Educate yourself, do your research and feel GOOD making conscious choices.
Let’s bring more conscious awareness to the way we do things in every area of our life. By doing so we will transition to from a culture of fast and cheap to one that is a collective culture of mindful individuals!
For specific education on how to be a more mindful consumer check out our online course called Wear The Change Movement. Filled with 20+ interviews with industry experts, we even had the amazing opportunity to speak with The True Cost Director, Andrew Morgan! You can also get lifetime access to all 20+ videos for only $28 (Canadian dollars) at www.wearthechangemovement.com. Full disclosure: I created this course, but I created it for people like you who want to fast-track your learning.
Overdressed, Elizabeth Cline: http://overdressedthebook.com/