Responsible models of consumption for society

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

According to world economic forum, “Consumption is not solely the action of purchasing. It is understanding, acknowledging and consenting to the product’s behind-the-scenes practices, either willingly or without much, if any, thought. It is the action of using products for their entire lifetime, and the way you eventually dispose of, or transform them.”

So, each and everyone of us is responsible for the things that we consume, we store, we use or mis-use and the way we dispose them. Of course, there are marketers who make us believe that there are things we need which we don’t, creating undue wants and dissatisfactions. Often, we hear ourselves saying, its just me, how much difference can one consumer make?

But we have all seen the power of one in this pandemic. How it has spread from one person to a few and then few to the entire global population. So where do we start? First by acknowledging that one person and one step at a time can make a difference. When we clean our house, do we just pick up the garbage from one corner and place it in another? That’s precisely the start of the approach. Imagine the planet or the country or the community to be our home. We cannot dispose off all the plastic from our house into the local landfill or water resource and assume that we have gotten rid of it for good. That is the circle of the ‘circular economy’. It has to come back to us in some form or the other, either large scale disease, lack of resources, exorbitant cost of essentials etc.

Responsible models of consumption for society
Responsible consumer

What are the steps we can take today in order to make a difference, one step at a time:

1. Be mindful of how much you are buying every month – clothes, food, home décor, consumables. Are the waste patterns justified? For example, are you throwing too much food away every month, and still continuing to buy and cook the same quantity? Can you do away with one less piece of clothing every month. Remember, you may be able to afford it, but the planet cannot.

2. What are the constituents of your purchased items – does it have too much synthetic, plastics and/ or items which could have been purchased digitally instead like a book. Does it involve a duplicate purchase like buying a kindle when you already have a high-end iPad?

3. How much of it are you reusing or recycling – Evaluate from time to time, your waste disposal methods. Not only in terms of food, where segregation is a must, but also other used items like used clothes, bottles and plastic items. Giving away clothes to someone needy or converting the sturdy clothes into reusable shopping bags and the like is way cooler than buying plastic shopping bags every time you visit the store. Plastics and paper should be given to the scrap vendors as they ensure these items are sent for recycling.

4. Is it helping a cause somewhere? – Although these days most companies try to use their environmental or social initiatives as marketing tactics, it is worthwhile to check where your regular items like clothes and food are coming from? Millennials as a generation are people who want to contribute to their planet and society. That could be done in the form of – buying handmade, buying from an enterprise which sources responsibly, products which support employment for an underprivileged community of workers and so on. Come to think of it, switching to organic grocery instead of the regular grocery would hardly increase your monthly spending by a few tens of dollars/rupees, which would mean one less trip to the restaurant every month. But it is instead perceived as a huge investment for something which is so critical – our health.

Mitāhāra is also a concept in Indian philosophy, particularly Yoga​, that integrates awareness about food, drink, balanced diet and consumption habits and its effect on one's body and mind.Lets forget Retail Therapy, let this be the age of the conscious and responsible consumer.

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