It all started about five years ago. I was living in Toronto at the time, working as a cosmetics buyer for an e-commerce retailer. Although I was making a reasonable salary for the city, saving money was a constant struggle and source of anxiety. In hindsight, this was largely a result of my vulnerability to the impulse buying of things that I ultimately didn’t need or which didn’t bring me sustainable happiness.
It was reading the Marie Kondo book about tidying up that first led me to explore the idea of buying things with purpose, and started me on this journey of becoming a mindful consumer. I’ve been on this journey for close to five years now and along the way have met many others looking to liberate themselves from their unsustainable and unfulfilling consumption patterns.
Survey data shows that average impulse buying in the US is up +18% since COVID started. Being stuck at home, out of our normal routine, and with increased anxiety about the future, certainly can trigger impulse buying. In my mind, this makes it even more critical for people to understand that there is another way: mindful consumption.
Lately I have been focusing my practice of mindful consumption on developing a better understanding of the origins of products I choose to buy and brands that I choose to support and avoiding impulse buys. In this post, I will share three examples of how I applied these efforts during COVID times.
Practicing mindful consumption by supporting my friends’ small businesses
One aspect to my practice of mindful consumption is to carefully evaluate each decision with intent and purpose.
Try this out by asking yourself 3 questions before every purchase:
- Do I have an immediate need for this?
- What makes this product special?
- Who made it and why did they make it?
The last two questions require a bit of research, and this inevitably allows you to learn more about the brand, the founder, and the item you are thinking of purchasing. This process also slows you down just enough to avoid making an impulsive purchase that you might later regret. You will really appreciate learning the small details of where the product comes from and the thought that went into creating it. Most importantly, researching-before-buying gives you the power to choose to support a business that aligns with your values with your hard-earned money.
In the process of building Minori, I’ve made a few brand founder friends, and I couldn’t be happier in helping support their business during COVID-times.
Lindsey Knaak has a brand called Meant which makes multi-tasking unisex products for your hair and body. Her brand prides itself as the “Marie Kondo for your shower”. I bought shampoo, body scrub, and a candle from her brand, which both my husband and I loved using.
My friend Kate Assaraf is the co-founder of a plastic-free body brand called Noap. We’ve met through Instagram a few months ago, and have shared quite a few brand founder “war stories” of building a business during COVID! I was so proud and elated to support her when she launched earlier this summer with her first products.
Both Lindsey and Kate have been great resources for me to have these past few months, and knowing the passion and care that went into developing these products makes me appreciate using their products that much more. This is truly the very definition of mindful consumption!
Renting clothes through Rent the Runway instead of shopping
Renting a piece instead of buying it can be a good way to add variety to your outfits as well as getting to know a fashion brand before investing in it.
At the end of March, like many others, I celebrated my 30th birthday in quarantine with my husband. I decided to treat myself by subscribing to Rent the Runway (RTR).
Amidst such unsettling times filled with zoom calls from my at-home desk, it felt good to dress up with new outfits. The subscription costs $135 per month for 2 swaps of 4 pieces. It’s actually on sale now for $99 a month for your first two months, which I think is a pretty good deal.
Out of ~20 rented items I ended up buying only two pieces. These were very intentional purchases as I wore them quite regularly for two weeks and knew without a doubt that I loved them!
Indulging on the small things
I’ve been finding affordable ways to add a spark of color in my life by buying flowers every now and then when I go to the grocery store. The importance of appreciating your living space is definitely more acute now that I spend so much time confined in my apartment!
Flowers have always made me happy and joyful. The same goes for candles. I love to light a candle when it gets dark. I’ve been generously burning them for the past few months.
Try and identify the smalls treats that really make you happy. Keeping yourself feeling “taken care of” through these small mindful purchases like buying flowers, a candle, or good tea, etc. will diminish the impulse of wanting to go on a more expensive shopping spree.