Way of the Cactus has closed. But you can purchase Sways and sensory resources here at The Indie Shop, part of Indie Disability Support

Way of the Cactus has closed. But you can purchase Sways and sensory resources here at The Indie Shop, part of Indie Disability Support

5 steps to becoming a conscious consumer

February 05, 2018

5 steps to becoming a conscious consumer

Now that the New Year is officially here and our thoughts turn to projects and plans for 2018 – here’s our guide to an awesome project you can undertake that won’t cost you a cent. You don’t even have to leave your house to do it! We want to give you a super simple guide to making a start on being a conscious consumer.

Conscious consumption means that you look for an off ramp in the endless cycle of buying one thing after another – much of which it turned out you never really needed. That sounds simple, but long term habits are hard to break, especially when you live smack bang in the middle of a culture that is all about the spend.

So here’s 5 easy steps to disrupt the mindless spending cycle and take control of your buying.

Step 1: Unsubscribe from all advertising emails

There’s a trend emerging where businesses you purchase from online automatically sign you up to receive their ‘special offers’. Before you know it, you have an email a day shouting at you to QUICK HURRY DON’T MISS OUT BUY THIS THINGY NOW. Given you already bought something off them before, it’s likely that you are interested in their products, making the urge to click those handy in-email links and keep shopping. STOP. DO NOT TOUCH THAT LINK.

Scroll down to the bottom of the email and you’ll find an ‘Unsubscribe’ link. Click it. Follow the instructions to choose no emails from the company.

And just like that, your inbox is no longer a ‘tempt box’.

Step 2: Put a ‘no junk mail’ or similar sticker on your mail box.

You can buy these or even better, go ahead and make a simple painted one on a bit of scrap wood. Those sales brochures are generally printed on very low quality paper with toxic inks, so this step also has benefits for the environment.

And just like that, your letterbox is no longer making sales pitches at you.

Step 3: Don’t hit ‘submit’ on that online payment just yet

We’re not suggesting that all online shopping is bad. In fact, for those of us in neurodivergent families, the ability to shop without the crowds and sensory overload of shopping centres is a blessing. BUT, online shopping is certainly FAST. You don’t even have to log in these days to approve payments as lots of businesses will remember your shipping and payment details. Three clicks later and you can have a new cat delivered to your door (I made that up – I don’t know that you can order a cat online but I wouldn’t be surprised if you could).

I like the ‘wait 24 hours’ approach to online shopping. Go ahead and find what you think you need. Add it to your online cart if you want. And then DON’T HIT SUBMIT. If you still want it 24 hours later, well okay. Once you’ve mastered the 24 hour wait, up it to 48 hours. Go a whole week if you’re brave. Often you’ll find the feeling that you MUST HAVE IT waivers and fades during the wait period.

And just like that, you’re not bringing more stuff in to your life that it turned out you didn’t really want.

Step 4: Do not store your credit card/bank account details on any online shopping site

Sure, it’s convenient. You’re on Amazon, you choose your items and hello, they know you’re credit card number already, so you don’t even have to enter it manually. They don’t magically know it of course – you’ve clicked some little button sometime that has allowed them to store it for future use. Remove this immediately. Make it a big bad painful experience to have to go hunt for your card or bank account details, manually enter them, get it wrong, start again etc. This will slow the whole quick pick purchase cycle down and hopefully give you a bit of space to consider whether you really do need that thing or not.

And just like that, internet shopping just became slower and trickier, hopefully resulting in you giving up on those purchases that were spur of the moment.

Step 5: Abandon the concept of ‘browsing’

Shopping centres are full of people wandering around with what I like to call ‘passive hunters’. These are folk being pulled from one shop to the next in search of ….something. They’ve already bought the items they came for but are continuing to wander, searching for something else they might want. Consumerism is fed by the BROWSER – the person ready and waiting to be taken in by a fancy sign that something is on sale or a shiny display that catches your eye and hijacks your attention.

The internet has a version of the same thing– you visit a store website for an item you need, click on the suggestions lovingly made just for you underneath your chosen product and now you are deep in browsing territory. If you didn’t know you needed it before you saw it, you probably don’t need it. Give up browsing.

And just like that, you will have more money, more space and more time in your life for the things that nourish you.

There you have it. Make a start. You don’t need to be perfect. But the tips above will help you to move from being a passive victim of marketing to someone who is more in control of their spending and consumption.  You will have taken 5 steps on the road to becoming a Conscious Consumer and that road takes you in a rewarding direction.

Stay tuned for more advanced tips once you have these mastered!