How a Book Encouraged Me to Become a More Mindful Consumer.

A lady stood in the big box store, waving a coupon in front of the employee’s face. 

“I have to find this!” She insisted, “I have this coupon and I don’t know what or where it is.”

The employee started to help and the lady replied, 

“Well, I guess once we find it, I will decide whether to keep it or gift it. It’s a 30% off deal.” Her brow was furrowed and she seemed driven to find the item, but unhappy. 

I think consumerism has done this to us. We are doing what our ancestors did- hunting and foraging, but hunting for things we don’t need, foraging for things we don’t want for more than a week. (Or, in this lady’s case, shopping for an unknown because we have a coupon!).

Ads endlessly entice us to shop and even the store’s atmosphere: from the lighting, the music, the air temperature, and the smell, have been tailored with research to encourage us to buy.

My friends and I have been talking about becoming more mindful consumers for over a year. When I read, The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, it was an a-ha moment. Cait outlines a specific plan, based on her own journey, and it made the whole thing feasible to me, just like that.

Immediately, I shared the book’s ideas with my friends and they were into it. We started a Facebook group to keep us accountable and off we went. The group has been invaluable to me. Every time I think of buying something, I think, “But do I want to tell the group I spent that on this?” The answer is no, for all the impulse wants. 

The other day I went into HomeSense with my daughter, Isabella, since we were early for her doctor’s appointment. Isabella likes to feel all of the pillows- she is very sensory. 

What a lesson in restraint that was!

I made it out without spending a cent, but I did learn a lot on why I spend. A lot of the items in the store had me yearning to buy them. I would pick it up and feel, “I NEED THIS.” Then, my brain would think, “Why?” 

When I really sat with the item and thought it out, I imagined the whole journey. I imagined: buying it, taking it home, trying to make space for it, loving it intensely for the first month. 

Then I kept thinking: I imagined being unhappy with it after a month and trying to find a new spot or use for it, moving it around my house endlessly, feeling like it was more clutter and eventually getting rid of it. 

Sitting with the item for five minutes in the store made me realize I don’t want or need it after all. I was seduced by the colour, the sale sticker and the display it was a part of. 

So, is the year of consuming mindfully- only buying what I need– going to be easy? No, but I have already started to take note of my triggers and I’m able to sit and assess wants over needs.

It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m ready.

If you want to join our saving journey, please let us know! There is strength in numbers when you are looking for a support system.

I’ll keep you updated on how I’m doing, I promise. 

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