How Being A Conscious Consumer Can Save You Money And Time
One of the most common questions I get asked when people are transitioning to a more conscious consumer mindset is where to find budget friendly alternatives. And while I absolutely do believe that we need a middle ground between fast fashion and a $200 ethically made dress — I also feel very strongly that what we need to address more than anything is our purchasing habits and frequency. We need to learn the difference between what we need and want, and what the real cost of well-made items should be — because it shouldn’t be $10 for a t-shirt I can tell you that.
Since the sustainability movement can feel out of reach for many financially I wanted to take the time to break down the many ways that being a conscious consumer can save you money and time! But I will also preface this right now — you have to want to change your shopping and consumption habits if you are going to become a conscious consumer and save money over time — there is absolutely no way around it.
Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with BuyMeOnce a company that is working hard to help change the way we choose to consume the physical products that make up our lives and homes, and to create a resource for poeple to be able to find brands they can trust, and that are made to last a lifetime. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own.
My Personal Experience Transitioning To Become A Conscious Consumer
When I first transitioned to shopping from a place of mindfulness and social responsibility, one of the first things I noticed was how often we as a society tend to emphasis the positive in the cheap cost of our purchases.
Once I realized that I no longer wanted to be a participant in the excessive (and mostly unethical) consumption of consumer goods I pretty much went off it all cold turkey, which opened my eyes (and mind) a lot!
Now I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this because it could feel very overwhelming to do all at once, but for me personally it worked. I had more than enough things than I needed and so I just stopped shopping for a little while, and allowed myself to observe, learn, and rethink the way I wanted to shop in the future.
This time allowed me to really understand what I needed and what I didn’t. What I loved in my home and what I could care less about. That first summer I went to 8 weddings without buying a single new dress — this was a big accomplishment for me and really challenged everything I used to believe when it came to what I thought I needed to buy.
The more I was avoiding sales and the weekly target and home goods runs, the more I was realizing that there is always a sale going on.
What used to seem urgent and an opportunity I was going to miss out on, now started to look like a desperate selling tactic. I started to see the marketing and sales strategy of our current consumer shopping industries for exactly what they were — a strategy.
Once I had removed myself from this system (which trust me was a big test in discipline and motivation at first) I also started to realize that almost everyone around me seemed to validate their purchases with a caveat for how cheap they got them for.
It was subtle at first, but overtime I noticed more and more that we as a society actually pride and validate our purchases by the “deal” we got them for. Guys — we are falling right into these giant businesses hands by doing this.
Let me give you an example. I would go out with a friend for lunch and I would compliment her on her dress and she would respond with “thank you! I got it for so cheap at 40% off” — ever said something similar? I can almost guarantee you (and I definitely) have.
The more I started to understand the “sale” culture that surrounds our shopping habits, the more I began to realize that we aren’t benefiting from the constant selling and marketing of sales, and if anything this sale mindset is only making us value our belongings less.
This sale driven mindset is SO HARD to break free from though since for many of us it is what we have grown up with our entire lives — and I would be lying if I said that sales no longer have any affect on me, because they do.
Now however, I put so much intention into exactly what I bring into my home that if I see a sustainable clothing item on sale and I know it is something I absolutely have been looking for then I will purchase it, the sale is a bonus but it’s not the reason I am purchasing the item in the first place.
This is the difference we really need to work through. Now I no longer buy based on “the sale”, I buy from a place of intention and thought, and I never find myself describing anything I own with the phrase “I got it for so cheap”.
My belongings are in my life and home for a reason and there are so many other stories I can tell about them that have nothing to do with cost.
So if you have been wanting or trying to transition into becoming a more conscious consumer I want you to start observing how often the people around you refer to the “cheap cost” of their things to validate them. I want you to start noticing how often you are sold a “sale”. I want you to start pushing your mindset around what your current purchasing habits look like, and what they could look like.
How Being A Conscious Consumer Can Save You Money + Time
Instead of purchasing higher quality items much less often, we are consuming more things — more poorly made things — without as much thought, need, or intention.
But before you go beating yourself up it is so important that you know that our current society encourages and praises this way of consuming. It really isn’t your fault at all that these purchasing behaviors are your norm because they are the vast majority of peoples norm — but once we know better, we can do better.
It really wasn’t all that long ago that people used to choose items that came into their lives and homes based with so much more intention and knowledge.
Our ancestors knew to ask and question where an item was made, what an item was made of, and how long it would stand up to wear, tear, and time. That didn’t mean that they weren’t good bargain hunters either by the way, they just didn’t make purchases solely on bargain. If something was poorly made or unnecessary then it was a waste of money and not worth buying — regardless of how “cheap it was”.
This is something we have completely forgotten and also don’t really know how to look for anymore — but we can learn, and this is how being a conscious consumer can save you money in the long run.
This intention and mindfulness is starting to make its way back into our culture as more people feel burdened by their “things” and more small businesses are willing to put the effort into preserving handmade, traditional ways of creating goods that can stand the test of time.
Why Cost Per Use Matters
Because we consume things so often and with so much excess we have in many ways forgotten what cost per use means, and why it is so important.
Cost per use is the number of times that you are able to use something and the cost that over time is associated with each use.
For example say you buy a $40 pan and are able to use it three times a week for three years before you decide to throw it out or it breaks etc. That would be 468 (3x/week X 52 weeks X 3 years) uses for $40 or $.08 cents per use.
Now lets say you invest in a $150 pan from a company like Finex that you know is making kitchen ware that historically (and currently) is made to last a lifetime. You use that pot the same amount (three times a week), but now you use it for 50 years before giving it to your grand child. Anyone else have any of their grandma’s cast iron pans or ceramic pots? They are the absolute best! That would be 7800 uses for $150 or $0.02 cents per use — and now you have a family heirloom.
Cost per use matters and it is the best way that you can save money over your lifetime while also acquiring items that are so much nicer and mean so much more. But you have to change your shopping habits to be able to invest in these items.
Because yes, they are going to be more money upfront because they are made with better materials, better ethics, better craftsmanship. But with some planning you can budget for them and you WILL SAVE MONEY in the long run — but you have to be willing to be in this for the marathon of life, it’s not a sprint.
Also please remember that just because something is a higher cost does not mean it is made well or ethically made. Designer brand names are charging for the name, not necessarily the quality so it is important to always do your research, which is where a company like BuyMeOnce can be a big help.
What Would You Do If You Weren’t Shopping
Being a conscious consumer can absolutely save you time. I know this because it happened to me. Once you aren’t drawn to every target, home goods, or Nordstrom you pass by you will realize that there are so many better things you can be doing with your time.
You also will be able to run into a target (if needed) and actually get that dish soap you need without being drawn in for an hour and leave with a bunch of things you didn’t want or need and $150 less dollars in your bank account. If you have ever been into a target I know you have been there.
So imagine how much time you could save not mindlessly shopping — in stores or on the internet. Would you read more? Exercise more? Do crafts? Make plans to see friends for lunch?
There are so many ways that we can save time when we aren’t being preoccupied by impulse shopping — and time is a currency that is very valuable and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Where To Find Brands Worth Investing In
So now that I have (maybe) convinced you to give this whole conscious consumer thing a shot the question I am sure you are asking is “but where do I look for brands I can trust and are worth investing in?”
While some of this will absolutely be a process of discovering new brands and small businesses that will replace you prior go-to’s, there also are some amazing companies out there that are doing most of the research for you — and are making becoming a conscious consumer so much easier.
BuyMeOnce is a favorite company of mine because they really embody that cost per use philosophy we discussed above. The entire premise behind the company BuyMeOnce is to research and seek out products that are built not only ethically and sustainably, but also in a way that is meant to last as long as possible.
They are also constantly expanding their resources, and everything on their website you can trust has been vetted with the most rigorous of standards.
So now that you know how being a conscious consumer can save you money AND time, what do you think? Are you ready to make some changes in the way you shop? Start small — start today, and watch how this way of living can and WILL transform your life.