Mindful Consumption

Vanshika Yadav

We as individuals make millions of economic choices related to buying goods over our lifetime. But have you ever wondered how many of these choices are actually necessary? Have you ever gone to the mall and bought a new purse even though you have a perfectly fine one at home? Have you ever gone to the supermarket and bought 2 big cartons of milk just because it was on sale but later had to throw these away due to not being used by the expiry date? If your answer is YES to the above questions then you have not been practicing mindful consumption. Mindful Consumption is premised on a consumer mindset of caring for self, for the community, and for nature, which translates behaviorally into tempering the self-defeating excesses associated with acquisitive, repetitive, and aspirational consumption.

The modernized western culture over the last century with its incessant promises of pleasure, happiness, and non-stop distractions along with profit maximization being the primary driver of business is disturbingly responsible for perpetuating mindlessness in its citizens. In other words, the stress-inducing, isolating, lack of true connectedness, materialistic culture is, in part, responsible for many of today's mental and physical health problems, not to mention mass environmental problems. This kind of stress and behavior leads us to make unnecessary purchases to make us feel better.

Mindful Consumption > Content Section Type

In order to follow the principle of Mindful Consumption, one should be asking these 8 questions while making a purchase:

  1. Will this purchase objectively improve my life? 
  2. Is this item an ecological hazard? (Think about its carbon footprint and try to find alternatives) 
  3. Is this item and company that produces it in my circle of ethics? (Cruelty free and vegan etc.)
  4. Can I buy this item second-hand? 
  5. Will this item end up in a landfill?( Make sure you buy something bio-degradable)
  6. Do I already have something that serves this item's purpose?
  7. Can I make this item with things I already have? (DIY cases, hats, etc.)
  8. Am I compulsively buying this item to fill a void in myself?

After thinking about these eight questions, one would know if a purchase is mindful or sustainable enough. For example, rather than buying a new H&M dress, you could look for more sustainable alternatives like thrift shops. If you are buying a new straw hat just because you need a necktie, you could DIY and attach a necktie to the hat yourself. All these changes in consumer behavior happen gradually so do not be disappointed at your progress, just try to take it one step at a time and one day you will be a full mindful consumer. After all, as consumers, it is our prime responsibility that we inculcate Mindful Consumption in our daily habits to help solve the sustainable crisis all around us. It is not only a smart and efficient way to help mother nature cure itself, but at the same time, it also saves our money by enabling us to make smart purchases. So, remember to ask yourselves these eight questions the next time you go to the supermarket or the mall to make a purchase.