Mindful Consumption: the key to reducing our impact

* Spoiler alert! At the end of this post, I included a 10% off code to use at one of my fave mindful & sustainable apparel brands, Organic Basics *

It’s definitely not a shock to my community when I say that every single day I think about the Climate Crisis and the tragic man-made destruction of our planet. Along with that, I also think about the reluctance of so many average citizens to fully comprehend the severity of the crisis, and the lack of corporate responsibility & sweeping governmental legislation that’s required in order to save our future generations.

I also practice mindful consumption when choosing stationary. My mom actually found these for me!

I think that it’s easy for average citizens of wealthy nations to ignore the magnitude of the crisis and avoid taking action for two reasons. Of course there are a select few people invested in carbon, coal & other nasties, and people who are convinced that their cushy lifestyles and/or societal status depend on conservative leadership that denies manmade climate change. But I’m not talking about those people. Rather, I’m talking about people in a comfortable financial situation who are lucky enough to regularly enjoy shopping, eating out, cultural activities, vacations & pampering. I’m talking about the people who understand that the climate crisis is an issue that must be addressed ASAP, but their concern doesn’t go much further than accepting that there’s a problem (and maybe using reusable shopping bags & drinking straws when it’s convenient/easy). Why are the majority of privileged citizens so aloof when it comes to their role & responsibility in an age of environmental & societal decline? The first reason, in my opinion, is a reluctance to give up any first-world comfort or convenience they’ve grown accustomed to, especially when it’s not legally required and therefore neighbors and fellow citizens aren’t forced to make the same change. The second reason why it’s easy to largely ignore this crisis is the belief that one person is unable to make a real difference and the idea of needing to wait for sweeping governmental legislation and large corporations to tell humanity what to do and how to change.

I ditched daily disposable coffee cups. Instead, I brew my own coffee every morning & transport it using my trusty mason jar & lid.

While I can’t understand the complete denial of something so scientifically proven & backed up, I can totally understand the reluctance to give up comforts I’m used to and the feeling of being too small to make any real impact. I get it. I relate to this struggle. I have trouble with these reasonings too. There’s obviously more that I could be doing, but everything’s a process and at the end of the day, you can only do what you can do. So I’m not here to tell you to immediately stop all purchase of single use plastics, stop eating animal products, stop buying new clothing and stop driving your car and flying on planes. That’s unrealistic and would be laughably hypercritical of me. Rather, I’m here to promote something far simpler, and that’s to just THINK about your impact every single day. That’s it. All I’m asking of you is to think about your choices throughout the day, everyday.

My trusty reusable produce bags for the win!

What does this look like? Well, when you choose to use the plastic bags at the grocery store or Target, take a second to think about where that bag may end up (ever seen that video of a whale that died from 88 pounds of plastic bags in it’s stomach?). When you get a disposable plastic coffee cup before work or drink from a plastic water bottle, think about every other person also doing this and how many cups/bottles will find their way into a landfill in just one day. When you’re eating meat at almost every meal, think about the conditions of the animal that you’re eating and the amount of resources needed to provide you with this meaty dish compared to what it would take to produce a plant-based protein (for more info on this point, see my blog post on the topic here). If you’re in the market for a new home, or even just thinking about what your future home will look like, consider something smaller & less impactful than you originally thought you needed. When choosing cleaning products & toiletries, think about the values of the company you choose to support, their packaging, the toxic ingredients they use and if there’s a better option available. And when you’re grocery shopping, think about the purpose of that plastic produce bag & how silly it is to waste a plastic bag protecting an item of produce after it’s rolled around on who-knows-what while it was in transit from farm to grocer. Like seriously, your shopping cart & fridge should be the least of your concerns when it comes to “dirty” produce. Anyway, I call this general pattern of habitual thinking & increased awareness “being mindful,” and to me, mindfulness is the first & easiest step in reducing your impact & doing your part. Money, time & inconvenience are not required to be mindful, so it’s the perfect place to start.

My hope is that if I can get more people to be regularly mindful about their impact, they’ll naturally start making more sustainable decisions while realizing their lives can still be comfortable, fun, luxurious & convenient, even while making more & more of these better choices. I’ve found that making some changes were a lot easier than I expected. Like, for instance, not using paper towels anymore. We eliminated paper towels from our kitchen and it was surprisingly simple. I gave up using plastic produce bags for fruits, veggies & bulk items and instead use reusable produce bags. Again, so easy. Same with eliminating disposable plastic water bottles, investing in organic/local groceries, and thinking twice every time we want to order dinner for delivery instead of dining at the restaurant.

Tee by Organic Basics, Joggers by Amour Vert, Sunnies by Blue Planet, Sandals by Indosole

More recently, what I’m most proud of in regards to mindfulness, is my lifestyle change when it comes to clothing, style & fashion. I’ve always loved curating my personal style and expressing myself through my clothing. But the apparel industry is overall extremely wasteful, unethical, toxic & environmentally destructive. So I made a commitment to only purchase clothing that I consider mindfully made. This means that any brand I choose to support must emphasize their high environmental and/or ethical standards. This could mean using organic cotton to reduce destructive & toxic pesticide use, or plastic-free packaging/shipping. This could mean transparency when it comes to factories used in producing goods, or using recycled/leftover materials to make products. Because apparel from brands with morals is inherently more expensive to purchase, this has also encouraged a less-is-more mentality in my wardrobe. At this point, I’d much rather spend $40 on a soft, organic, ethnically/sustainably made t-shirt rather than have four $10 shirts unethically made from synthetic fabrics. I understand that for some, it’s simply too expensive to buy a $40 tshirt, and in that case, just take good care of whichever tshirt you choose and make it last as long possible.

Tee by Organic Basics, Sweatpants by Everlane, Necklace by Mejuri

There are so many brands & companies out there making high-quality, ethical & sustainable apparel these days, you wouldn’t believe how easy it is to find clothing I love that’s also mindful & low-impact. Amour Vert, Whimsy & Row, All Birds, Everlane & Reformation are just some of my favorite brands. The newest addition to my wardrobe is a set of three basic tshirts I received from Organic Basics, another of my go-to brands when it comes to mindful consumption. I fell in love as soon as I tried on one of these insanely soft, semi-stretchy organic tees – pure luxury. Organic Basics focuses on eco-friendly, high-quality fabrics and chooses factories that are also low-impact and craftsmanship-driven. And the product is shipped without using plastic bags which is awesome. The Organic Basics Impact Index page on their website is definitely worth a look, so go check it out before adding a three-pack of these tees and my favorite bralettes to your cart. Quick sizing note – bralettes from OB are true to size, and I sized up from my usual small tshirt size to the large size for an oversize fit that’s easy to tie in the front. Bonus time! If you want to give Organic Basics a try, use code RADIATEOBC2 to get 10% off your order!

I love this perfect tee from Organic Basics, the perfect amount of stretch.

*this post is a collaboration with Organic Basics and their Low Impact Project“an ongoing photographic journal asking people what they’re doing – or what they are trying to do to reduce their environmental impact”