"Every cent you spend is a vote. A vote towards what you want made, how you
want it made, by whom and at what expense to the world and its inhabitants. Every vote counts."
So, your task for this week is to go shopping! Ok, not exactly. Simply do the normal shopping you would have done this week, but allow a bit more time for it. The idea this week is to become conscious of how much of what we consume is actually a need and how much is pure desire, and the effects of these desires on ourselves and the world at large. So, while you are shopping (or consuming in any form), start to ask yourself some of the following questions:
Do I really need this?
What effect will this purchase have on me? Included in this question could be things things like... Does this food have hidden sugar /salt / hydrogenated fats / E numbers / etc that may be hazardous to my health? Does it have true nutritional value or is it simply filler? Is this likely to damage my liver / kidneys / lungs / brain? Will I be absorbing any chemicals / pesticides / etc used in the production of this product? (Read the label of every single product you buy – you’ll be surprised at what you have been taking in without even knowing it.)
What effect will this purchase have on others? Included in this could be things like... Is this something that is in short demand? Has it been manufactured at a reduced cost by using ‘sweat shop’ style labor or replacing jobs with machinery? Am I using money on a superfluous product which could rather be spent on helping someone with a real need? Was anyone physically harmed or threatened during the manufacture or distribution of this product?
What effect will this purchase have on the environment? Included in this could be things like... How much waste will be created from the packaging? How many pollutants entered the world through its manufacturing process? Does it contain hazardous chemicals that may get into the water supply or affect the animals or plants in your environment? Has this product been produced by a company that tests on animals? Will this product ultimately end up in a landfill / the sea? Is there an alternative product that would be less harmful to the environment? How long will it take for this product or its packaging to break down?
Then try to extend your questions beyond an actual shopping trip. Become aware of how you function in consumer mode almost from the minute you wake up, and sometimes even in your sleep... Every time you turn on a light or a tap you are consuming and your consumption is affecting your world. Consider how many times you boil a kettle in the day. Do you leave lights on when you’re not even in the room? Do you leave the tap running while you brush your teeth? Do you run the hot tap when you could have used the cold? Do you leave your computer or other appliances on standby overnight? These are just a few issues that I can think of offhand, but try to move through your day with awareness, catching yourself in unconscious consumerism as much as possible.
Imagine for a minute that everyone in the world was exactly the same as you, with the same desires and habits and morality. Imagine the 6 billion people in the world all thinking and acting exactly like you. What kind of a world would you be living in? Would you be happy to say that you were responsible for that world exactly the way it is? You are.