The common approach to shopping today includes little concern for how our buying practices affect the world. While the manufacture of goods is still in need of significant change, it is increasingly evident that it is not only a change in industry, but also a change in consumer mindset that is necessary to combat destructive consumerist practices.
Thanks to the work of caring individuals in the last decades, many more consumer options are available now. With even large box stores offering shelf space to ethical products, consumers have more options than ever. To help energize your own ethical practices or to help explain to a friend how to get started, here are three ways to bring about a change in mindset.
Know the cheapest price is Rarely The Fair Price
When factories moved overseas, our perception of a fair price was immediately skewed. We cannot properly judge what price is fair for an item made in another country. Still, we worship the cheap. It has become a point of pride to be a bargain shopper. Yet we do not seem to make the mental step of wondering if paying a few dollars for an item makes us a winner at the expense of someone else who was paid pennies for making this product.
It takes a great deal of willpower to fully abandon the bargain mindset. Instinctively we search for the cheapest price. Yet once you begin to educate yourself on conscious consumerism, you will begin to understand how the cheapest price is rarely the fair one.
Leave a margin in all things
Most of us were raised to think space should be filled, money should be spent, and schedules should be booked. If you failed to do these things, somehow you were playing the game of life wrong. Even so, it is in the crowded moments that we make the worst choices. In order to rewire our minds for a different kind of consumerism, we have to give up the narrow margins with which we live our lives. In all things, we must plan for space.
Margins give you breathing room that results in better choices and better living. Leaving a margin in your finances, a healthy space between your income and your expenses, means you have more money to devote to better goods. Space in your schedule allows for calmer decision making and time to search a little harder for an ethically-made product. Margins in your physical space remind you that there is so much you can live without. Ethical choices don't feel like such an inconvenience when you have healthy margins in your life.
Applaud small changes
When you first begin to open your eyes to the changes that need to take place in your shopping choices and lifestyle, you may experience a sort of consumer paralysis. There is too much that needs doing, you'll never be able to manage it all. That is why you must reinforce and encourage yours and others' small changes. Smile when you see others buying local. Take pride in wearing that one new clothing item from an ethical source. Treat yourself to a latte in the travel mug you finally remember to bring with you.
You may find yourself getting discouraged by the big things. Don't give those thoughts traction. Big or small, the changes you make do make a difference. Invest in the small and do it with gusto. Life is made up of many small decisions and only a few big ones. Don't overburden the big when small, ethical choices can bring just as much gratification.