Sunday, January 19, 2020

Mindful Consumerism and Minimalism

There has been a surge in "mindful" or "mindfulness" practices lately. I don't benefit from mindfulness meditation, but I have been happier since I started to practice mindful consumerism. For me, mindful consumerism is an introspective process that involves critically analyzing my need for consumer goods. Mindful consumerism, to me, seems like the perfect partner to modern minimalism.

My mindful consumerism has been a work in progress for about the past year. I started by analyzing the products I use on a daily basis, and have worked to change my habits for the better. Mindful consumerism has not only cut down on clutter, but has helped me stick to a good financial budget as well. Below are a few of my recent helpful habits as a "mindful consumer":
  • Purchasing bath goods in liters - In addition to saving my wallet the higher cost per unit of smaller bottles, I am also creating fewer pieces of plastic waste. Additionally, I switch out regular flip caps to pumps to better control the amount of product I use. These switches help make two 1L bottles of shampoo and one 1L bottle of conditioner last just over a year for me and my husband.
  • Buying timeless wardrobe pieces - My style has remained pretty consistent for the past few years, which makes it very easy to buy fewer garments. My daily outfit consists of either a dress or a tunic, leggings, and boots. I have short sleeve and sleeveless dresses for summer, but they can be worn all year with the addition of a cardigan. My closet isn't stuffed full of a ton of different single-purpose outfits. Everything can be mixed and matched and accessorized to fit any occasion.
  • Making do and mending - Despite items in my wardrobe being similar over time and easy to replace, sometimes I get attached to one piece or another and wear it to the point where it starts to get a little worse for wear. Instead of tossing out a cardigan because it gets a hole in the elbow, I'll "make do and mend" and break out some sewing supplies to stitch it back together. In addition to saving me the cost of a new garment, mending a ripped or holey one keeps it out of the landfill for longer.
  • Simplifying my skincare routine - Some skincare regimens today have over 40 steps and several dozen products involved. Mine has one step, sometimes two in the morning, and sometimes a third step at night. By keeping it simple with a cleanser that doesn't dry out my skin and a moisturizer that pulls double duty as sunscreen, I save myself time and money that more complicated regimens would demand. At the end of the day if I need it, I'll use micellar water to remove makeup or just refresh my face. Up to three products, and just a few minutes a day--that's all it really takes to keep a face clean and healthy. (Plus I couldn't imagine the clutter of a 40+ step regimen.)
  • Unsubscribing from retailers' marketing emails - Part of being a mindful consumer for me is not waiting for promo codes or the next hottest product to hit my inbox. I don't buy into marketing hype, and I can always search for promotional codes or discounts when I do need to buy an item. Hitting unsubscribe means fewer temptations, and fewer products I might buy only to use once then throw away if they don't work for me.
  • Waiting at least a week before a "want" purchase - If I see an item that I want but might not need, I'll wait at least a week before I make a decision to purchase it or go without. It was hard at first to suppress the urge to buy things as soon as I saw them, but it's saved me a lot of clutter and money by waiting. I've found more often than not that I like the idea of the impulse item more than I'd appreciate the reality of having it.
Becoming a mindful consumer can be a difficult process, but with the right execution it can have a multitude of benefits. Personally, keeping down clutter, not producing a lot of waste, and saving myself time and money are the benefits that excite me the most.

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