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CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM

by wowmagazine

Are you making a positive social, environmental and economic impact when you buy things?

Conscious consumption isn’t just about being a little greener, but questioning how much we consume. Do you question yourself before buying any new product or service?

Alok: During my engineering college days, this was from the era of pager and dial up internet, a visiting professor warned us that technology would change at a rapid pace and we would be constantly unsatisfied with what we have. Her mantra was – buy for your need, not greed – and that has stayed with me. I never buy on a whim, and if I feel pressured to spend, I will wait a day or two before deciding. The urge will more often than not pass. 

While I don’t consider myself to be a hardcore minimalistic, I try to focus more on quality than quantity.
Alok Thapa
Filmmaker & Voiceover Artist

Astha: Conscious consumption is an umbrella term that simply means engaging in the economy with more awareness of how your consumption impacts society at large. The concept behind conscious consumerism is straightforward. You only buy what you need and what is essential. You don’t splurge on goods you already have enough of. Yet, trending goods and services always seem appealing. I try to restrict myself from buying goods that are unessential, but I equally believe experiencing trend is important for consumers to classify their consciousness.

Kirti: Yes, I question myself before buying any new product or using any service. I do the background check of the product, search for reviews and detailed information about the product. For service, I look for people’s opinions about the service on socials.

Alize: I am more careful about the products I purchase since two years.

Aakash: In today’s world of visual culture and mass media, consumerism has taken on a different meaning, there is less purpose and value orientation. It is tough for the mass, especially youth, to put limits to their needs amidst this large variety of choices. It is hard to put restraint on the popular culture of impulsive buying. But as a fashion industry insider, my experiences and the awareness of rapidly degrading climatic scenario, I do question myself if the product is crucial to my needs. I delay the purchase and see if I already have an alternative at home. Most importantly, I look at the products longevity and disposal. I now prefer buying less of anything and base it on my practical reasonable needs rather than on impulse.

Do you try to learn more about your favourite brands in terms of carbon footprint, social responsibility, etc?

Alok: I don’t usually get down to nitty-gritty analysis but when I am spending that extra bit for supporting a cause or being ecologically friendly then I do make a point to at least go through their social media handle. I think it is very important that we as consumers do our due diligence and research a company; this way we can ensure we are supporting a truly eco-friendly organisation.

Astha: Trendy gadgets, fashion clothing and any recent craze items do leave a substantial carbon footprint because of the way they are produced and how fast the turnaround process of those items is. Supporting companies and businesses that encourage consciousness and are sustainable in their approach is another aspect of conscious consumerism one should be aware of while making purchase decisions.

I try to restrict myself from buying goods that are unessential, but I equally believe experiencing trend is important for consumers to classify their consciousness.
Astha Rajbhandari
Founder, Kala Kathmandu

Kirti: I am a professional makeup artist. I have been replacing my kit with brands that are vegan and cruelty free. I root for brands and companies that support social causes.

Alize: Most of us financially support companies we might not necessarily support socially, ethically or philosophically due to fashion. In my new house, I have dry toilet and all my new purchases have been picked carefully.

Aakash: I do go through environmental aspects and CSR of any brand I use. Be it food or clothing or electronics or any hospitality service, I prefer abiding by brands that will last longer and are consistent in quality. Above all, it is us the consumers whose demand and purchasing habits should determine the quantity and level of environmentally friendliness in a product when it is produced and its after effect when disposed. 

What difference has conscious consumerism made in your life?

Alok: It has definitely made my life easier. I buy less, I don’t mind borrowing and swapping, and most importantly it has helped me de-clutter. Also, I feel my friends appreciate that I do not gift them random junk (which will eventually be given away or thrown out); I believe in giving thoughtful experiences, say a nice bottle of scotch, fresh baked treats or a collection of seeds. I hope my friends do the same.

Astha: Becoming a conscious consumer takes time, commitment, and a lot of mindfulness while shopping, whether it be for small or large items. It also takes a lot of self-control not to be tempted by offers, deals and sales, especially nowadays when everything is just a click away on social media and can be paid instantly and is delivered at your doorstep. Simultaneously, experiencing trend is also important for consumers to classify their consciousness.

To become a budget consumer embrace minimalism, be a conscious consumer, educate yourself. Reduce, repair, reuse and recycle.
Kirti Joshi
Food Technologist & Makeup Artist

Kirti: I am aware of the fact that all my actions need energy to produce and be functional. Conscious consumerism makes a big impact on my decision making and lifestyle. As I talk about it I am at peace somewhere unconsciously knowing I – as an individual – have been contributing to future generations. 

Alize: I feel more connected to the world and it has helped me to balance myself. I feel at peace. 

Aakash: Conscious consumerism has made it less stressful to think and purchase from a vast pool of choices of delusive mass fashion and drown in it to nowhere. It has helped me to build strong choices which are more environment and health friendly. It has also enhanced my concept of individualism and boosted  my self esteem and self care.

How can one be a conscious consumer even if you are on a budget because ethically made goods cost more money?

Alok: While I don’t consider myself to be a hardcore minimalistic, I try to focus more on quality than quantity. The quality of eco products is almost always superior so I don’t have to buy more. Start somewhere, even if it’s just one toothbrush, one can contribute in creating a more sustainable planet through eco-friendly shopping. Also, money talks, it is the universal language of business, so when manufacturers see their eco-products selling more, they will make more of it and that will eventually bring down the price. 

Most of us financially support companies we might not necessarily support socially, ethically or philosophically due to fashion. Alize Biannic
Founder & Artistic Director, Solis Performing Arts

Astha: Avoiding temptation is one of the best ways to hold consumption aside. But being updated with the trend is also equally necessary to not feel lost from what is happening around oneself. For example, Miniso or any other shopping mart is a perfect example of a shop that makes one want to spend more. Personally, I try to avoid entering such stores because I know that once I am inside, I’ll end up buying things I either already have or have no use for. But as a human, I get tempted just like everyone else.

Kirti: Ethically made products are a necessity than luxury. The world would be a better place if it is made accessible to all. On the brighter side, to become a budget consumer embrace minimalism, be a conscious consumer, educate yourself. Reduce, repair, reuse and recycle. When buying food buy from farmers (locals), go for whole food instead of processed food. When buying clothes and accessories, be mindful of what you have in your wardrobe and how you can use things multiple times. Go for sustainable and ethical brands. Lastly, quality over quantity.

Alize: It’s easy to accumulate stuff, even without much money. After two years, I have realised that in the long term, I have safe money. In the beginning you may need to invest a little. I am so happy with my choice.

It is us the consumers whose demand and purchasing habits should determine the quantity and level of environmentally friendliness in a product when it is produced and its after effect when disposed.
Aakash Shrestha
Creative Head, Nepamode

Aakash: Conscious buying should be a must towards making efforts with climate change. It will also help improve mental and physical health. It is not a question of budget but one of making the right choice. Buying less, buying local, upcyling and reusing can never be expensive indulgences.

Lesser the choice, lesser the stress. Lesser the health hazard, lesser the budget required to create a happier and healthier life. We must promote the concept of less is more.

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