Often my anti-consumerist, smaller footprint, “live simply” self, and my “the kids deserve the joy that materialism so easily delivers”, acquisitive, affluenza-suffering self war with each other.
Especially during birthdays, and holidays. During these special days I, like every other conscious consumer, enter the battlefield of who to buy for, what to buy, and why? And, most importantly, HOW?
For your consideration, some guidelines I came up with for my own conscious and compassionate consumerism:
1. Remember that every dollar is a vote. When you spend, you are voting for the survival of one “contender” over another. You’re contributing to the policies, and politics, of the corporation you buy from. Choose accordingly.
2. Locally owned companies need your support to stay afloat. So, keep chain store gift buying to a bare-minimum. If you’re going to spend your “hard-earned” cash, spend it where it helps the most.
3. Gift with products and services you believe in. Organic cotton socks may be out of your price range ($50 for five pairs? Yikes!), but, see # 4.
4. Buy products and services produced and offered by people you know. You probably know a lot of really great folks, doing really great things. Artists and artisans, musicians, writers, massage therapists and body workers, hairstylists and aestheticians, fix-it guys and gals, coaches, teachers, carpenters, tarot readers, florists.
Instead of an item that may or may not go to waste, why not purchase a gift certificate for a massage, a dollar amount at a local store, a commissioned piece of art from an artist friend, classes, or a glorious spa day? Look at it this way; not many of these are things most of us would buy for ourselves right now. Not with the economy being so bad. So why not feed the “giftees” heart with some gentle R and R, a feast for the soul, or the gift of beauty?
This doesn’t need to be a big expenditure, either. Get a gift certificate for lunch at the locally owned taquería. You’re out ten bux, and your friend is in for a great lunch!
Keep in mind that when you buy from friends, you gift twice. You support your friend in her or his commitment to “right livelihood”, and you give a quality, personal gift to the recipient.
5. Attempt to fully and presently give the gift of yourself. Relax into the experience of it, stay present in the joy of times shared with loved ones. Light candles to welcome the return of the Sun.
6. Become conscious of your judgments, and let them go. This is a very personal suggestion that you may relate to; one of my biggest challenges to staying present in gifting is my judgments about consumerism, and the wastefulness that especially the bigger holidays bring; light displays, wrapping paper, extra driving, extra buying, extra spending. And with the more minor holidays being amped, this complaint no longer belongs just to Christmas time.
My voice of judgment rings out in response to my own holiday habits – which at times veer into excess, over-extension, stress. It can be overwhelming to stay conscious in the midst of it. So, I try to relax my judgment towards myself and others. Judgment is not compassion.
7. Meditate on the longing, the need, the hunger that the shadow-side of WANT inspires, and allow it to pass. Again, and again, and again. Feel it, and let it go. Recognize it in your own desires to care for, and to be cared for, and find acceptance and love for the hungry parts of you. Notice it in others, and generate compassionate understanding.
Just as with any face of compassion, conscious, compassionate consumerism is a practice. It’s a practice I undertake for my own benefit, and the benefit of all sentient beings.
These are my steps to compassionate consumerism. What are yours?
Support an independent business person; ME!!!
January, 2013; A LOCAL, IN-PERSON SEXY WITCH COURSE? YOU can make this happen. Local? Register now.
Other holiday themed articles:
Of Dark Nights and Wood Stoves – A Christmas Reminiscence
Reframing Your Family’s Recesssion Anxiety to Conscious Consumerism
Five Ways to Engage Your Kids in Grateful Giving