by Juan Cardona
While reading the news, I feel this craving to buy something; next, I find myself browsing the Internet in search of something to buy that I have lived all my life without. Isn’t there enough stuff in my life already? Everywhere I turn, I am confronted with my consumption habits and my choices.
I am definitely getting satisfaction out of buying stuff. What am I trying to cover over, to bury in a pile of consumer goods? Could it be the void left behind in me by the rush to make many purchases? Stop! I have to do something! I have to engage in a process of becoming conscious of my consumption habits.
When I put myself in the context of the world, I understand that Planet Earth is not going to support any longer a level of consumerism like this from me, nor from billions of other human beings. I want to break free! Surely it’s about a better quality of life, not more stuff? Enough is enough! I meditate on this and decide on some strategies to help me understand my urge to consume. This is what I decide to do:
- I will observe myself closely and write down my observations.
- For one month I will buy only groceries and pay bills; in other words, I will limit my consumption to meeting my family’s basic needs.
- I will unsubscribe myself from the mountains of promotional junk mail I receive every day.
- I will RECYCLE, RECYCLE AND RECYCLE.
- I will donate or throw away the excess—following the 12 month rule. If I have not used something in 12 months, I will donate it, throw it out or re-sell it online.
- I will meditate on my consumption habits: What is my underlying motivation?
- I will share this plan with my family in order to gain their support.
- I will surround myself with information and a support network of conscious consumers.
Here are some of my findings and the changes I have observed after working for a month on this aspect of my personality:
- The eyes are the window of the soul. The less I look at things, the less I get enticed. My conscious effort not to browse or search for products has helped me reduce my need to buy stuff.
- I have effectively reduced my non-essential purchases by 75%.
- I am actively engaged in thinking about ways to reduce my level of consumption and to dispose of excess.
- I have rekindled the amazing joy of simplicity.
- I have engaged more in family or community activities.
- I am making things, such as my own pizza, from scratch.
- I am riding my bike to work.
After learning all this, I still have a big question: How can I reduce my need for stimuli? What comes to mind are strategies from the Method of Cafh, such as meditation, the practice of silence, prayer, self-observation, contemplation, the simplicity that comes from trying to occupy only one place and not two, and reading books that support my desire to be a conscious consumer.
One such book I want to share with you is Enough is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill. It has inspired me a great deal not only to change my way of living, but also to strive to influence the policymakers of our time. I realize that the only thing that is feasible for us to change is ourselves; everything else is beyond our reach. Nevertheless, efforts to influence policymakers in sustainable economy practices could have wide-reaching effects. Having a stable state economy is about better lives rather than more stuff.
What a blessing it would be for all of us and for Planet Earth if we would strive to become more conscious of our consumption habits and keep in mind the kind of footprint that we want to leave behind.