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The Antidote That Is...

The universe conspires in mysterious (and yet logical) ways. If there is matter, it’s balanced out by anti-matter. If there is blight, there’s also an antidote taking full charge of negating it out. And therefore, where this is capitalism, there is also conscious consumerism.

In today’s world, we rarely seem to care about how our buying practices affect the world. While the manufacture of goods is still in need of significant change, it is increasingly evident that it is not only a change in industry, but also a change in consumer mindset that is necessary to combat destructive consumerist practices.

No matter how much we may limit our resources and recycle and reuse the goods that we already own, consuming will happen in our lives. Everything has a price, and the cost is not only what is depicted on the price tag. Most of our natural resources are finite and non-renewable, yet the easier it is to buy things (hello, Amazon Prime!) the more we separate ourselves from the reality of a finite world.

To help energize your own ethical practices or to help explain to a friend how to get started, here are three ways to bring about a change in mindset and become a conscious consumer:

1. Cheapest is not the finest We brag about our bargaining skills to one and all around us. We love items that are monetarily cheaper. But what we forget is that with quantity (read: price) also goes down the quality. For example, buying a cheap LED bulb might seem a fair call at the time of buying, but soon we realize that its shelf life is much lesser than a little costlier bulb. Now, we have to replace the bulb sooner that it should be -- which means the old bulb goes into trash, accumulating into landfills. Spending a little more might be just one of the ways to be more sustainable.

For items manufactured overseas, we cannot properly judge what price is fair for an item made in another country. Still, we worship the cheap.Being a bargain shopper has grown into a point of pride. Yet we don't seem to make the mental move of wondering if paying a few rupees for an object makes us a winner at the cost of others who's paid pennies to make this good.

It takes a great deal of willpower to fully abandon the bargain mindset. Instinctively we search for the cheapest price. Yet once you begin to educate yourself on conscious consumerism, you will begin to understand how the cheapest price is rarely the fair one.  

2. Margins give you breathing room Most of us have been raised to think that space should be filled, money should be spent, and timetables should be reserved.If you failed to do these things, somehow you were playing the game of life wrong. Even so, it is in the crowded moments that we make the worst choices.To rewire our consciousness for a different type of consumerism, we have to give up the narrow margins which we live our lives with.
    If you have failed to do these things, you have been playing the game of life wrong in some way. Margins give you a breathing space which leads to better choices and a better living. Leaving a margin in your finances, a healthy space between your income and your expenses, means you have more money to devote to better goods. Space in your schedule allows for calmer decision making and time to search a little harder for an ethically-made product. Margins in your physical space remind you that there is so much you can live without. Ethical choices don't feel like such an inconvenience when you have healthy margins in your life.
    3. Little Things Matter Every little step counts, be it the smallest decision of replacing your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo one, or using public transport instead of being a solo occupant in a 5-seater car. When you’re a shopaholic, but decide to go slow on purchasing for a month, applaud yourself. When you first begin to open your eyes to the changes that need to take place in your shopping choices and lifestyle, you may experience a sort of consumer paralysis. Be proud of yourself for taking your cloth bag with you instead of a polythene bag when you go shopping next time. Give yourself an applaud when you remember to turn off the lights the next time you step out of the house. Treat yourself to a latte in the travel mug you finally remember to bring with you.

    You will surely be diverged and distracted by the bigger things in the beginning, but the key is to not give those thoughts traction. Big or small, the changes you make do make a difference. Invest in the small and do it with gusto. Life is made up of many small decisions and only a few big ones. Don't overburden the big when small, ethical choices can bring just as much gratification.

    Give your consumerism the antidote of conscious consumerism, and see this world being transformed into a better place, one step at a time.

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