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The Benefits of Conscious Consumption

The Benefits of Conscious Consumption

As women, we are often faced with making many of the decisions that contribute to the smooth functioning of our households, whether we work outside the home or not. The reasons behind this and the implications of it are many, and constitute the basis of another article beyond the scope of this one. To be sure, many men contribute significantly to household decisions, as well. But by and large, many (though, of course, not all) women seem to experience a unique relationship with their home lives, even women who love and excel at their careers. At least, that has been my experience. Of course, this connection could be merely the result of cultural influences and social mores, but it seems to exist for many women, nonetheless.

Therefore, it is beneficial for women to appreciate the ways in which their household’s consumption habits influence their community and their environment. This is certainly an area of my life in which I’d like to make significant progress. This weekend, I will be attending my second food swap in Oakland, California. Local residents grow food or prepare dishes at home, then bring the food to the swaps, where they essentially barter for produce and prepared dishes brought by others. This is an excellent idea, as it allows participants to enjoy high-quality foods that they are not likely to grow or prepare themselves, while also saving money. In addition, it circumvents the corporate food system. Rather than benefiting the corporations that own the chain grocery stores, food swaps benefit local communities. They represent a kind of consumption that creates value for those who participate, whereas most forms of consumption simply create waste.

In addition, joining community-sponsored agriculture groups and patronizing farmers’ markets are excellent ways to purchase healthy food while avoiding the corporate food system, as well. Simply choosing to prepare healthy meals from whole foods, rather than relying upon convenience foods and fast food restaurants, reduces waste and combats corporate food production.

Similarly, peer-to-peer transactions create less waste and benefit local economies. Purchasing items on Craigslist and at thrift stores cuts spending and serves to recycle consumer goods. Utilizing Craigslist prevents those items from being thrown out and winding up in landfills. It is also environmentally responsible, because producing new consumer goods uses more resources. It is a socially conscious decision, as well, because the money being spent benefits local residents, rather than distant corporations. Of course, one must be cautious when interacting with others via Craigslist, and always plan to meet potential buyers or sellers in safe, public places.

Repairing and repurposing items is also important. I purchased my computer bag new three years ago. Last week, it finally began ripping at one of the seams. In the past, I most likely would have thrown it out and replaced it without a second thought. But instead, I sewed the seam back together. I am not a particularly skilled seamstress, so it looks a bit sloppy. And sewing the tear back together was more labor-intensive than going online and buying a new bag. But I created less waste and saved money. Small decisions like this add up over time.

Reducing consumption benefits us in several ways. In addition to helping us save money and benefiting our local communities, it allows us to enjoy a greater sense of self-sufficiency. Knowing that we do not always need to rely upon large corporations to satisfy our wants and needs is certainly empowering. Striving to become conscious consumers also provides an opportunity for us to live according to our beliefs and, in turn, to contribute to the creation of a new zeitgeist that is more compassionate and responsible than the one the mainstream currently promotes.



Occupy Local Businesses for the Holidays
Food Swaps: How You Can Reclaim Homemade Food
Get On Board the Non-Consumption Train

Read more: Community, Conscious Consumer, Do Good, Food, Green, , , , ,

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.


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10:13AM PDT on Oct 22, 2012


10:59AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

great article. so important.

6:02PM PDT on Oct 13, 2012

Great article. In 1938, I read that women had a total of 8 outfits. In today's world women have 75+ outfits. What is wrong with this picture? I encourage everyone who is holding onto clothing they will never wear, in hopes that they will wear an item(s) again someday, move on and donate. Donating clothing is repurposing. Buying clothing from thrift stores is repurposing.
My 91 year old Mother hoards decades of clothing, although she has the proper storage space; yet there is no reason to hold onto clothes she has no place to wear. It is better to pick out several favorite outfits, to wear to Altrusa or Temple, and donate or take outfits to a resale shop. There is no reason for her to have rooms full of clothing, all hung up, yet unworn. It's sad to me!!

7:48AM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

thank you for the article. i used to participate in an online group that traded and bartered services. i saw that as a great way to consciously consume. i shared about this experience a few months ago. please feel free to read and enjoy.

7:53PM PDT on Oct 11, 2012


7:16PM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

thanks. nicely written article

4:32PM PDT on Oct 11, 2012


4:23PM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

There are plenty of benefits to being consumption conscious.

2:29PM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

I like this article. Anything that emphasizes reduced consumption is a good thing.

7:25AM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

an excellent reminder of how we all need to be a bit more consumption conscious. i agree its easier to toss things out that to actually think about our actions and get things fixed instead. i learnt to visit charity clothes shops while travelling overseas for great bargain finds, second hand bookstores locally and farmers markets on the rare occasion i come across one. at the rate of inflation we're all living in, we need to cut back any chance we can.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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