A Contradictory Life

Compassionate consumption


Infinite growth of material consumption in a finite world is an impossibility. - E.F. Schumacher

I have a massive problem with our excessive consumerist culture (some irony: at work I am the consumer and luxury goods analyst). I honestly believe that there is not enough capacity on Earth to support our current “standard of living”. We have become addicted to spending and this has had such far-reaching impacts on our beautiful planet and the even further-reaching Universe.

We all *know* that happiness cannot be bought but do we *understand* this. Even I, the girl who bought a sum total of eight items last year, am known to express; “the best therapy is retail therapy”.

Did you read “The Parable of the Mexican Fisherman“? Read that and now let’s take it further. Social media has had a major impact on the pressure we put on ourselves to consume. Not only do we envy the people that we know (who most of the time we are in a similar position to) but we now see how people all across the world live – we are exposed to all kinds of other lifestyles that we now consider the “norm”.

We need to start using the impact of social media for things other than inducing envy, hate and vitriol.

I have always been, I like to think, a compassionate consumer. I don’t shop as a hobby. As I mentioned further up I bought eight items of clothing last year and I don’t buy hundreds of beauty products, only the essentials and make some of my own. I don’t waste food and absolutely hate seeing this happen – something my ma has always instilled in me. We recycle. A lot. We take about two to four filled black bags to our local recycling depot every week. We switch off the lights, unplug things that aren’t being used and run some of our lights at home on solar power and look to do so wherever possible. We cycle on weekends and enjoy the beauty that this world has to offer instead of consuming it. We eat whole foods instead of processed and buy things that aren’t packaged in unnecessary layers of plastic. I do not drink bottled water (a pet peeve on which I can write an entire post too). Recently, I have started the journey of becoming a vegan too. Again, this is a post for another day. But, again, it comes down to compassionate consumption. The Kind Life as Keri had dubbed it.

We need to, absolutely have to, become more mindful of the manner in, and the extent to which, we consume.

What do you do to have less of an environmental impact? I am asking, not because I want to judge or make you feel bad but because I am sincerely interested. I want to learn. I want to engage. I want talk like this to become something that is not awkward, but the new “norm”.

“What is needed instead is something far more sweeping: for people to internalize a different sense of how one ought to behave, and act on it because they believe it is right.

What needs to be eradicated, or at least greatly tempered, is consumerism: the obsession with acquisition that has become the organizing principle of life.

This is not the same thing as capitalism, nor is it the same thing as consumption.

Profound transformations in the definition of “the good life” have occurred throughout human history. Before the spirit of capitalism swept across much of the world, neither work nor commerce were highly valued pursuits — indeed, they were often delegated to scorned minorities such as Jews. For centuries in aristocratic Europe and Japan, making war was a highly admired profession. In China, philosophy, poetry, and brush painting were respected during the heyday of the literati. Religion was once the dominant source of normative culture; then, following the Enlightenment, secular humanism was viewed in some parts of the world as the foundation of society. Such normative change is possible, especially in times of crisis.” source

I want articles like this (quoted above, not mine) to go viral instead of arguments over the colour of a dress (seriously?).

I want to practice this concept of Ahimsa. I want it to consume me…