Mindful Consumption: Keeping it Simple

You may have noticed in Monday’s prayer that a quality I am focusing on heavily this year is mindful consumption. In the process of simplifying I’ve come up with a checklist that helps keep me on track. Here are a few of the ideals I keep in mind to keep my house clutter free and my garbage bin light.

Be Choosey. So many times I find myself buying something that is “okay for now” but that I know I will want to replace later. This happens especially with clothes. It’s easy to get caught up in the feeling of needing something to work in a specific timeframe, but instead of buying a subpar version of what you think you “need” see if you can change your “need” mindset all together. If you take another look at the situation, chances are you don’t really need that item and it will only lead to extra clutter and frustration in the end.

Be Mindful of Amounts. Maybe it’s the Italian in me but I am always worried that I won’t have enough. From dinner to comfy t-shirts, my new rule is that I only need 2-3 choices on hand. Any more than that and the food goes bad and my closet is stuffed with items that are never touched. When it comes to food portions, as Shauna has pointed out many times, we have learned to believe that we need much more to be full than we actually do.

In addition, I used to buy something new for every special occasion I had coming up. What I’ve realized in the last year is that sometimes I really could use a new boost, but many times I didn’t. Mantra: the more you buy, the more you’ll have to figure out later. Keep it simple, you’ll thank yourself later.

Bulk. Yes, amounts are important but buying certain food items from bulk stores leads to less packaging waste. You can bring your own glass jars to refill herbs at most natural food stores and bring produce bags to buy loose produce instead of using plastic.

Make a List. Consumption is part of living in a modern world. Since I’ve started becoming mindful of how I buy, one thing I’ve had to stop myself from is feeling guilty when I do want to purchase something. The best tool I’ve started using to be sure that my money is spent on something that will be sustainable to my needs and tastes is to make a list. I write down everything that I feel like my house, closet or pantry is in need of and then I put it away. I don’t go out and purchase right away, usually these items are not pressing. Instead, when I find something I want to buy, I consult the list. If it’s there, I will consider it, if it’s not then I table the purchase for another time.

Clothes. In curating a long lasting closet I’ve decided to take 2 types of items off of my shopping list completely. If an item I want is too trendy, I let it go. On top of that, if it will only work for a specific occasion, I also let it go. To me it’s become more important that I like the way my closet feels (light and easy) as opposed to how one outfit makes me feel on one day. It’s all about longevity.

Whether these tools seem helpful to you, or you’ve adapted your own, the key here is to be aware of where your money is going and what happens to your discarded items once they are no longer of use. Here is to your own mindful list of consumption!