We consider ourselves reasonably informed, responsible, intelligent, independent-thinkers – right? We tout our nuanced understanding of what’s good for our emotional wellbeing, our health, our relationships, our children, our schools, our businesses, our economy, our environment, our country, our planet. We talk casually about these things the way we talk about the weather and our favorite sports teams. But there is a subversive influence omnipresent in our everyday lives that has a deceptive hold on us. It shapes our behavior in a way that undermines what we know to be true.
As citizens of a modern world, we have been deceitfully enrolled in a paradigm that encourages three ubiquitous evils. These things have become so pervasive, we take for granted how closely they influence our values and control our behavior. Like water to the fish, we have forgotten what we’re swimming in – or that we’re even swimming at all; and like fish, we go about our day-to-day floating with the flow. From time to time we sense something is amiss, but find it too difficult to identify – too close to navigate away from.
Of course, I’m talking about consumerism. The three evils I speak of are what I call, 1) the cheap, 2) the toxic and 3) the too much. We’re saturated in it. Like multi-generations of engorged geese, we have been force fed by a relentless corporatocracy consumed by profits. To get our attention, they inventively created what I call the big lie, a string of subliminal myths designed to reinforce a global consumer-base towards feelings of inadequacy and power. And we bought it – hook, line and sinker.
Most of the stuff we buy is made cheaply, largely from toxic materials, and shrink-wrapped in plastic with the message that we’re not good enough until we have the ‘newest model.’ As we get fat on junk food, gas guzzlers, gadgets, and yoga pants – bloated by the toxic stuff in everything around us, a small handful of con-artists got rich. Very, very rich. With all the Crossfit and yoga we do, we’ve not yet demanded a commonsense system of health care that treats wellness, no matter the cost. We’re funding prisons faster than we’re funding schools. We have no idea where our food comes from, or what known-carcinogenic chemicals went into making them. We’ve stopped caring about who makes our stuff – or what conditions they had to endure for their meager slave wages.
Conscious consumerism is a movement to revolutionize what we buy, why we buy it and from whom. It inspires a curiosity about the origins of the goods we consume, and a commitment to ensuring those purchases support sustainable life. The result of this movement is not just good for us individually as consumers and collectively as members of the human race, it’s also good for business and supports macro-ecosystems and economies on a global scale.
How do we become conscious consumers? First, we must simplify. We must look inward and discover that the intentional absence of excess creates the tangible space for abundance. We must cleanse ourselves and our homes of the cheap, the toxic and the too much, for they are killing us – all of us. We must learn to value the virtues of being nimble, flexible, adaptable, and resourceful; virtues that come from a lifestyle that promotes sustainable life above profit margins.
In the midst of the information age where everything moves at the “speed of business,” we have lost sight of what matters most, and that is: who we love, what we do, how and why we live – because everything else is just stuff. Yes, we are all hypocrites to one degree or another. We must do what we can. Start locally. Shop second-hand. Invest in your own community’s ability to deliver goods and services. Relative to the vast majority of people in the world, first world luxuries afford us the flexibility, indeed the obligation, to consider how we might bring a little consciousness to the global solution.
Read Evan’s bestselling new book ClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World available on Amazon http://amzn.to/1bjG9Wc (coming to print soon!) Learn more at www.ClutterFreeRevolution.com. Evan Zislis is founder and principal consultant of Intentional Solutions, delivering hands-on organizational solutions and strategies consulting for households, businesses, students, and life transitions. For more information about simplifying your stuff and organizing your life, call 970.366.2532, email Evan@MyIntentionalSolutions.com or become a friend at www.facebook.com/EvanZislis.
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