The Power of Your Consumer Dollar

Everyone is filling their lives with ‘stuff’.

In an age of fast fashion, cheap homewares, and readily accessible and affordable goods, it seems everyone is filling their lives with ‘stuff’.

Shopping has become a mindless task. Our compulsion to find a ‘bargain’ has well and truly taken hold and our want to shop faster than ever before means we make decisions on impulse, without considering our true needs or where a product comes from.

We’ve lost a connection with the money we have and instead we focus on the money we save, no matter the cost of this saving to a life, the environment or our local economy.

What if you had the power to change a life, save the planet and support your neighbours in living their dreams and educating their kids? Would you consider your power and use it wisely?

You do have the power; the power is in your wallet. You wield your power when you buy your groceries, your clothes, your homewares and anything else you consume.

Consider this, it’s the weekend and you hit the shops wanting to buy a new scented candle for your bathroom, a present for your nephew’s 4th birthday and order some flowers to be delivered to your best friend on her birthday, which is coming up.

With a mall’s worth of shops staring back at you, you mindlessly wander. You grab a new top off the rack in one store, because it’s only $4! Then you find a luxury-brand candle in the next store for just $26, and then you hit up a department store and find a cute new vest for your nephew—it’s a steal at $12.50!

With all the ‘savings’ you’ve made from these bargains you grab a basket from the front of the store and head over to the homewares section, taking a detour through the stationary section where you throw three shiny rose-gold coloured notebooks in. The total on the checkout rings higher than you expected to spend today, but it’s OK because you have a ‘massive haul’ so it’s completely worth it!

The power of your consumer dollar

The total on the checkout rings higher than you expected to spend today, but it’s OK because you have a ‘massive haul’ so it’s completely worth it! Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash.

You go home forgetting to order the flowers, but it’s OK because you click onto a large floral delivery network website and order a gorgeous bouquet. Overall, you’ve had a good day. But you’re not sure where to put all your new stuff… The regret sets in a little as you probably don’t need everything you bought, and so you hide it in the corner of the spare room for you to deal with later.

This is a common story and we’ve all been there. With a few changes to the story, the ending can be one of joy, supporting others, and being mindful and socially responsible.

By changing the ‘wander time’ into ‘thinking time’ or research, this story becomes one where you hit the ‘local wares’ store or market and buy a gorgeous and well-made jacket for your nephew. One that is designed by a local, and manufactured overseas in a factory that the local designer has personally assessed to ensure the supply chain is ethical—good conditions for workers and high-quality fabrics to support the longevity of the clothing piece (which can then be handed down to your younger nephew).

That $26 candle that lost its fragrance quickly and burned-out in just four-hours can be replaced by a local hand-poured candle, which holds its fragrance to the end. The local maker tested her fragrances and candle-life for almost half-a-year before she launched her business and she continues to test her products to ensure they are all high-quality. She strives to build relationships with her customers and provide them with a luxury product that gives them good memories and enhances their house-hold vibe and self-care moments. The candle is slightly more expensive, but the cost helps cover the materials used to make the candle and while the hours spent making it are done with love, the cost also helps the maker support her family and continue to grow her local business.

After researching, you discover your local florist is a social enterprise that employs people with a disability and promotes social inclusion. Your $60 spend helps provide real award wages to people with a disability and helps them continue to gain skills for their future. When you place your order, you get a personal reply from the owner thanking you for your purchase.

You end the day feeling wonderful, having built relationships, and feeling an attachment to the items you have bought. You resisted mindless shopping because your mindful shopping provided such a great experience.

There are always times when a lack of time will mean we need to purchase things quickly, and the ease of the shop will outweigh the connection to the purchase. But, in most cases, this is not true of every time we shop. More than likely, you will have some time to plan your purchase, to mindfully walk the shops for an item, and to think about the flow-on effect of the purchases you make. Where exactly is your money going? If you’re paying $4 for a t-shirt, could it really have been made in a factory paying decent wages? If your bag full of mindless purchases simply ends up at the tip because you already have too much stuff in your house, was the purchase worth the environmental impact? And if the local business can’t compete with the department store around the corner, how will its closure impact the local economy?

Mindfulness is something many of us are striving to work into our lives at all levels. Today, I ask you to work mindfulness into your next shopping expedition and see how it impacts your experience and your decision making. Your small change in this area can create big changes across the globe. In this instance, it’s about minimising waste to help the environment, fighting for ethical manufacturing and enhancing your local community and economy. You have the power. Use it consciously.  

One Comment

  1. Jodes_simpson@hotmail.com'
    Jodes

    Thanks for your article Sheena. It really resonated with me – I’ve been trying to be much more mindful about how we shop, what we buy and where and the quality. I do cringe somewhat when I think about all the “stuff” that’s available to us these days at such cheap prices, that often no one really thinks twice about their purchases.

    I’ve also been thinking more and more about reducing waste – buying second hand, looking for product that’s packaging free. I think this is another important part of buying local – often you see less waste and cost associated with packaging, transportation etc.

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