Have you watched the documentary ‘True Cost’ yet? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it – you can find it on Netflix. The director/creator of that film, Andrew Morgan, just did a podcast with Rich Roll which brought it back to my consciousness. In the podcast, Andrew, says something about how we’ve been labeled (turned into) consumers and we believe that we don’t have a choice – that we’re just bystanders.
This just isn’t the case! One person CAN make a change and an impact!
Five years ago, lululemon began the SeaWheeze – a beautiful half marathon followed by yoga and an outdoor concert. I had never run that far before, but FUN. was the band playing the concert that evening and I wanted to go see the concert, so I signed up to run. Btw, this was the year that FUN. won a Grammy – they were kind of a big deal. Anyway, I digress. The other piece of this event is that lululemon, being a clothing retailer, creates specialty product that is sold on the SeaWheeze weekend. Yahoo!
Fast forward five years. The SeaWheeze now sells out within minute, well in advance of the band being announced, and the SeaWheeze shop is INSANE! People were paying to have someone line up for them the day before the store opened; people were posting items online while they were in the store to find out if they could resell them; the shop is supposed to be open all weekend, but it sells out on day one now.
I picked up my race package first thing in the morning this year and I watched people run into the shop! I also, later, stood in the line for an hour; however, I picked up three things once I was in the store, then looked down, looked at the cash line, and realized it really didn’t need or want any of it.
Ok, so what can we learn from this?
We are constantly told that we are just consumers – we are expected to consume. We are expected to covet what’s new, better, trendy, but do we have to be that way? Do we have to give in? Will it really make us happier, healthier, more loving people?
In yoga, there are the Yamas and Niyamas that are basically the guidelines for how to live. There are five of each (kind of like the 10 Commandments). The fourth Yama is Aparigraha, translated to mean “non-attachment/non-possessiveness”.
I love this description of Aparigraha:
“This important yama teaches us to take only what we need, keep only what serves us in the moment, and to let go when the time is right.“
Part of removing ourselves from the label of “consumer” is to become more conscious about what we’re bringing into our space, why we’re bringing it in (what purpose it’s serving), and if it’s the choice we want to make.
Are we collecting stuff for the sake of having it? Because someone told us we should want it? Because we think it will make us happier?
I find this to be an extremely difficult practice and I definitely find myself wanting the newest iPhone, boots, scarf, brand-name jeans… We don’t perfect these moral and ethical codes; we continuously bring ourselves back to them. We constantly have to ask ourselves, do I need this? Will this make me happy? Will this make me a kinder person? Will this choice make me more loving?
Sometimes we really do “need” to purchase a new ____, and we all need to purchase food. So how do we make the best choices for ourselves, the environment and those creating the goods that we buy?
Being conscious about the consumer choices we’re making is still challenging, but with more of us making these conscious choices, they will become easier to make. Organic milk didn’t come to Walmart because Walmart wanted it!
What and how you buy MATTERS! If you believe in supporting local farmers, then buy foods that are in season and local. If you believe people shouldn’t be killed making your clothing, look into who is making your clothing and invest into products that last and that are made to a higher standard.
Right now, this costs higher; however, if more of us choose to support this, the costs will come down.
We don’t need all the clothes that are in our closets; we don’t need the newest release of something when our old product works just fine; we don’t need to over-purchase.
I am NOT just a consumer. I am a conscious human who wants to do better for the World around me. I want my choices to bring positive change into the World.
This is a practice and we’re all working on it together. Please share what helps you make more conscious consumer choices.