Conscious Consumption

Wanting always gets in the way of being.

I think for me it started with my first camping and climbing trip to Australia in 2013. I met a couple who were living *gasp* out of their car and just climbing, working as they needed to. I was amazed. Didn't these people care that they had no house? How did they answer the most common existential question “what do you do”? How do they go without fancy new phones, gadgets and clothes? These were people who were living life on their own terms, what other people thought about them wasn't their business. 

Am I a minimalist yet?

I’m not sure if I realised it then but I was on a path to finding what minimalism was all about. Later I stumbled on a blog called The Minimalists and read that religiously. I realised stuff is just stuff and doesn't truly make me happy. Climbing a corporate ladder to keep up with the Joneses always sounded wrong to me. The endless tech and fashion cycle of buying new things every year, never being up to date. Always wanting more because someone had newer, better, shinier, more expensive things than me.

Advertisements everywhere

I became more in tune to advertising, it was everywhere. I started to see visible brands on clothes as adverts that we have to pay to wear. I stopped reading magazines because they are 100% advertising, even editorials only featured products from advertisers. This was before Instagram was what it is now, it was just totally raw snapshots posted in the moment. Fast forward to now, advertising is everywhere. Between normal ads, sponsored posts, posts about products received for “free”, etc.

I’m not here to tell you about some “end of days” problem with buying new things, but we should probably strive to do it much more consciously. Advertising and the endless gushing stream of new products and things to buy are just preying on our insecurities. We are being sold a feeling, even if it’s just for a blink in time when we buy the thing. Feel healthy, feel pretty, feel thin, feel in the know, cool, current, accepted.

 I have things on my coffee table, please don't revoke my minimalist membership.

I have things on my coffee table, please don't revoke my minimalist membership.

 

Buy all the new things

In the Instagram health sphere, this is happening more and more with new brands of food and supplements. Fridge “shelfie” pictures of every brand imaginable lined up perfectly. Every version of the brightly coloured plastic jars of collagen available, every flavour of that new whole food protein bar, every flavour of the new paleo crunchy snack. Or how about the fitness posts of lined up countless pairs of sneakers, nary a scuff on any of them. Perfect new workout clothes in the latest colour palette, with no holes, pilling or matcha stains. No one is immune to the messages to buy it all.

So what’s the solution? I’m not sure because I’m still working it out, but I can suggest a few things that have helped me.

  • Always think about your purchases in advance, plan what to buy and where

  • Stick to shopping lists

  • Don’t get sucked into things on “sale”

  • Don’t visit stores just to look, looking leads to wanting to buy, leads to buying

  • Avoid most magazines, try an ad-blocker on your computer

  • Limit social media, unfollow brands

  • When you go to buy something, realize you’ve gotten by fine without that thing so far, maybe you don’t really need it

  • Fall back in love with the things you already own

  • Use up what you have first before buying a replacement

I hope this gets your thinking juices flowing, there is so much more to this topic and it’s very close to me because it truly made an impact in my life. After realising I was fine without all the stuff I minimized my own possessions, quit my job and moved countries. That’s not necessarily everyone's desired outcome but don’t let physical possessions get in the way of what you really want out of life - connection, adventure, travel, time.