How can you switch to a more conscious consumption?
Christmas shopping is blasting right now. I find it a good time to think about how and why we consume and how it is possible to change the way we consume into a more conscious consumption. Every year the business world is aiming for higher and higher profits in Christmas sales. This profit chasing is, according to me, one of the great diseases in Western society. It would make more sense if businesses would aim for being sustainable, provide people with meaningful jobs and aim for keeping a similar level of profit every year. Profit that in the long-term can be invested in the business and make it prolific. Grow grow grow isn’t working. We’re seeing that on so many levels today. But let’s switch to what we all can do to contribute to something a bit better.
For me, conscious consumption is not about avoiding to buy things. It’s being conscious about why you buy things, where they come from and what you or the receiver of a gift will do with them. As I mentioned in the weekly newsletter the other day (sign up to the right if you like), I prefer giving gifts that make the recipient more active, maybe something connected to a hobby of theirs. I find it’s a good way to try to find something that a person will actually be happy about, not just buying gifts for the sake of it. If someone has “everything” already, give them an experience, or donate the money to a cause the person cares about.
Your everyday choices make an impact
When consuming for yourself and your everyday life, there is a lot that can be done in the way you select the items you purchase. It’s so easy to just grab what’s in a nearby store and not think more about how it has been produced or the quality it has. I’ve had some experiences where the cheaper offer really wasn’t cheap when looking at how short time it lasted. It’s easy to dismiss an “expensive” quality item for a cheaper alternative, just because it digs a bigger hole in the wallet at the moment. But if you view it all from a long-term perspective, that quality item will often be the cheaper alternative. Add to this, that many better quality items also have better standards in terms of lower amounts of toxic substances and better working conditions in the factories. If you buy local, or at least from your own country, you’re helping out reducing CO2 emmissions + help your local economy.
Enough general rantings about this. Below I have gathered some examples of products I’m very happy that I got for myself. They are all examples of businesses that are trying to do things with a quality perspective, products that last. Please note that this is NOT a sponsored post. These are just products from brands and stores I personally like. Some of the items you can find elsewhere than in my links. As I said above, try to look for brands in your local area and brands you feel use acceptable ethics.
Environmentally friendly glue
Gutenberg Gummierstift is a product that has been around for over 60 years. It’s a paper glue that consists solely of natural rubber and water. This type of glue used to be on the back of stamps. What I really like about this product is that it comes in a refillable glass bottle. Not only is the retro design really cool, but you can also buy replacement parts for the cap and dispenser that might get worn out after some years. The glass bottle will last you a lifetime and the replacement glue comes in a large 300 ml bottle. Yes, rubber still needs to be shipped across the world, but with less packaging it’s still a better alternative than the small plastic glue sticks you find in any stationary store.
A bone folder is a tool uesed in book binding, paper crafts and sometimes in leather crafts. Check out one application here:
There are plastic and teflon covered alternatives out there, but I really wanted to buy one made out of real bone to also be able to use it in historical reenactment. It will last for years and is nicely manufactured.
Bavarian sheep skins
Sure, I could have bought something even more local in this case, but here I found sheep skins that have been naturally tanned and have a really nice quality – for a very good price. So many sheep skins out on the market have been chrome tanned, shipped across the world and are more expensive than the ones I got. These contain nothing toxic and can even be used by babies.
Hand made bath brush
This one I have mentioned before, but it’s definitely worth mentioning again. My bath brush from Iris Hantverk in Sweden is a really nice, handmade item that I’m so happy with. This is the best example I have of a quality item being cheaper in the long run. Before I got this one I bought myself a bath brush with plastic fitting at the local drug store. It lasted for about 4 months before it cracked through the middle. I’ve had other ones that quickly started loosing hairs since they were glued instead of sewn. In total I paid more for those ones than the one from Iris Hantverk and it has lasted for 2 years without showing any sign of wearing out. This company is cool for another reason. They have been around since the early 1900’s and since the beginning they have employed people with seeing impairments to manufacture the brushes – people who would have a hard time getting a job elsewhere.
I love writing by hand and I love doing it with fountain pens. Since I write a lot, I use up quite a bit of ink. Instead of buying plastic cartridges I prefer a proper glass bottle with ink that lasts for a while. It reduces packaging and I like the small ritual of refilling my pens. The one on the picture doesn’t even take cartridges since it’s a vintage Parker from the 1960’s. For most modern ones (at least of slightly better brands) you can usually get refillable cartridges. There are also loads of nice fountain pens on the second hand market and I find that you’re less prone to losing your pen if it’s valuable to you.
Those are some examples of items I’m happy with and that I know will be useful and give some beauty to my home for many more years to come. Do you have any other examples of how you can practice conscious consumption or some favorite items you would like to share? Let us know in the comments section below!