16 Simple Ways to Practice Mindful Consumption in a Hyper-Consumer World
For some time now, I’ve been talking about mindful consumption as a pathway for living deeply and restoring our balance with the natural world. But practically speaking, where do you start? What do you do? How do practice something that sounds great in concept but challenging in execution.
In retrospect, while I didn’t have the words ‘mindful consumption’ to point to, I’ve been spending the better part of the last few years practicing this kind of day-to-day living. My reasons have always been about sustaining our environment and leaving it a better place for my kids. But after discovering the concepts of mindfulness, the dots of living deeply were connected for me. All of this has become a kind of backbone for how I approach each day.
Orient Your Consumption Compass
There are really two ways to approach being mindful of what we consume day in and day out. On one level, there are steps we can take to orient ourselves better; to help change our perspective; to give our hearts and minds a solid foundation.
- Experience Life Through Your Heart. See with your heart. Hear it. Feel it. Smell it. When you let your heart of hearts lead you in this, you are tuned in to the world in a different way. You won’t immediately default to what is the most convenient or easiest. You’ll see the interbeing — the interconnectedness — of all things. For inspiration, reflect on the Fifth Mindfulness Training of Thich Nhat Hanh.
- Learn. About how the stuff we consume each day is made; how it makes its way from a field or factory to your hands. Understand what goes into it. Often, we just see the end product (a TV, a car, a pair of jeans, a bottle of water) with little sense of HOW it is put together: the raw materials, the manufacturing, the distribution. All contribute in some way to either the degradation or sustaining of our planet. A good jumping off point is The Story of Stuff.
- Slow Down and Single-Task. When you focus 100% on what you’re doing right at that moment, you eliminate distractions and their influence on you. You can pause to reflect on where this thing you’re consuming came from, what went into growing, manufacturing and/or putting it in front of you.
Simple Steps on the Path
On the other level, there are the practical things we can do each day to actually practice mindful consumption. And the great thing is: It’s not hard or complicated; nor does it require us to live like a hermit. These are a great way to get started (or continue your path):
- Watch less TV (or ditch it altogether)
- Spend less time online
- Eat more vegetarian meals
- Take shorter showers
- Hang dry your clothes
- Eat food produced locally (or grow some of your own)
- Bike or walk to your next destination
- Freecycle or donate what you don’t need
- Buy used goods when you can
- Purchase goods in glass or aluminum containers, not plastic (and recycle!)
- Pause before you buy something; come back to it at a later time and see if you still need it
- Get resourceful and learn how to fix or repair what you already have
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, but I hope it helps you with your practice.
Do you have other ways that you are practicing mindful consumption? Any other strategies for not getting caught up in our hyper-consumer culture? Maybe a different question altogether? Please feel free to leave a comment and share.
If you think others would enjoy this post, please consider sharing it with your circle. I’ve added a new Facebook Share button at the bottom of the post to help. While you’re here you might want to check out these posts:
- You vs. Stuff: Five Strategies for Winning Every Time
- Consumption Junction: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Moderation
- Meditation: When is Enough?