Conscious Consumption

I wrote a post for a blog I used to run with a friend (lots of past tense story setting in one sentence…), and have been thinking a lot about it. In a sentence, I decided that my resolution for 2015 was to consume less. Not just food and drinks–but coffee, media and things. I held to it pretty well that year and thinking about it now, it was a big part of what spurred me in the direction of tiny living. Testing how little we need to live.

I thought it may be relevant and interesting to share–so without further ado, from the archives of The Coffee Theory Blog

2015 Resolutions—The More You Know The Less You Need.

Yvon Chouinard has been one of my heros for a very long time now. From his first expedition to the Patagonia wilderness in the 60’s to his continuous dirtbag ways even as the owner of one of the largest and most influential outdoor companies in the world. And although I have a quote of his hanging in my house, the best thing I’ve ever heard from him is the idea “The More You Know The Less You Need.”

This isn’t a post about my admiration of Patagonia’s ridiculously cool “happy pessimist” unfortunately, but this year’s New Year’s Resolution that he helped inspire. I’m no good at New Years resolutions and I never have been. There’s never been something non-superficial that I would consciously like to change. But this year I decided, well before midnight on the 31st, that for 2015 my goal will be to consume less. Not eat less, but specifically put less sugar and processed crap in my body, spend less time mindlessly scrolling social media, watch fewer mediocre TV shows, buy less stuff and produce less waste. This means I need to cook using better ingredients, plan ahead, consciously notice when I’m idly scrolling or binge-watching, and make a change. The concept of consuming less as my resolution for 2015 came to me about a week before the New Year, and I immediately began thinking about how to go about changing bad habits and replacing them with great ones.

When it comes to food, my goal is to keep my pantry stocked with simple staples like lentils, whole wheat flour and a plethora of spices, so that when I need to, I can pick up the needed veggies from the grocery store on my way home, grab what I need from the cabinets, and make something simple and healthy. I also have already started making a big effort to bring my own reusable bags with me, including the large mesh produce bags so that I don’t have to use plastic ones. Buying food without using plastic has turned out to be more difficult than I thought it would be. Keeping vegetables fresh in the fridge without a plastic bag takes up a little more space, and more prep time and is still something I’m figuring out. My roommates and I are also in the process of setting up a compost in our backyard though which I think will make a world of difference for the amount of food waste we produce.

sporklife
On a trip earlier this year, I very consciously brought my own food and water bottle so I wouldn’t have to worry about buying something triple wrapped in plastic at the airport.

Social media is hard for me, because I truly enjoy taking and sharing photos on Instagram, but when it’s midnight and I need to be up in 6 hours, scrolling mindlessly through my facebook feed isn’t going to do me any good. So my resolution isn’t to stop social media completely, just consume less of it–to do this, I’m planning on spending more time with my phone on airplane mode and away from me, and more time with a book in my hand. Bringing books with me when I know I’ll be waiting somewhere instead of scrolling through my feed of mountain photos and selfies from last night’s party. I’ve been reading Malcom Gladwell’s What The Dog Saw since August. It’s January. I’ve definitely spent enough time scrolling through various news feeds to have read the book cover to cover at least 10 times now. TV shows fit into this category, too. For all of the 30 Rock and New Girl episodes I’ve watched recently, I could have finished another stack of books, made some really neat stuff, and made progress on a big idea I’ve been working on. My room would also be a lot cleaner right now if I watched less TV…

I’ve begun paying particular attention to what I’m buying in the last couple months. Before every purchase whether it’s clothes, gear or gift, I make sure I will be using the product more than once, question if there are multiple purposes or uses for it, how it was manufactured (you never realize JUST how much energy, material, and time goes into one little thing), where it came from (Was it shipped from Asia? Was it manufactured in the US?), and if it’s sustainable (will it last a long time? is it biodegradable or recyclable? What about it’s packaging?). Of course not everything will be great, but already becoming conscious of these questions and factors that go into creating a product has a. saved me a lot of money, b. opened my eyes to how little we actually need and c. made it so that the products I do buy are a higher caliber than I would have previously purchased.

Quickly after making the decision to follow through with my resolution for 2015, I realized that in order to consume less, naturally, one has to learn more. So when I read the quote by Chouinard, I decided that I was on the right track. It spurred me to reevaluate the simple resolution I started with of reducing my plastic consumption to expanding to reducing consumption in the rest of my life and actively searching new information on how to live better, with less.

Below are a couple sources that I have found inspirational and helpful! What are your thoughts? Suggestions? Ideas on how to improve?

—Stella

Addicted to Plastic: A great documentary on plastic waste around the world. Available on Netflix and a great alternative to sitcoms.

Thug Kitchen: A friend gave me this badass, vegan cookbook for christmas and it’s already changed the way I eat & how I see food. Highly recomended.

Cradle to Cradle: A superb book looking at manufacturing, recycling and “remaking the way we make things.”

Yvon Chouinard Interview with OutsideOnline: Or really any interview with him. He’s a passionate dude, who just wants everyone to try a little harder to do a little better.

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