14 October 2010

What is a 'conscious consumer'?

As a consumer you have two powerful words at your disposal, ‘yes’ this product or service meets and fulfills a real need of mine or ‘no’ it doesn’t, and through the intentional application of these words you influence which products, services and businesses survive and which don’t, but more than that you determine which business practices (behaviour), values, visions and philosophies survive and which don’t.

Through this apparently asinine choice of saying either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a buying impulse you shape our tomorrow (yes, your choice now affects my quality of life) and influences the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the health of our planet and you even influence the probability of our survival (yes, your choice now affects the lives of my children and grandchildren)

And without money is it consistently possible to make solid, well thought out and integrated conscious consumer choices?

Is it reasonable to expect that an item manufactured to the highest green and socially responsible standards possible, land on the store shelf at bargain discount prices?

Could you reasonably expect a computer manufactured using biodegradable and recyclable material, produced by a uniquely aware (conscious) business doing everything possibly; to lower it’s carbon footprint, provide a truly ergonomic and echo-friendly environment, to empower, educate and train it’s staff and their families and play a vibrant and supportive role in local and cultural social up-liftment programs, to be able to get it’s product onto the shelf at the same or even a better price than a company using slave labour, the cheapest most nasty components and churning it’s manufacturing by-products into the local estuary.

Of course not, it just does not make any sense on any level.

Is it possible for a contractoring firm making a conscious effort to pay it’s labourers and staff a truly livable wage and invest in their ongoing training and development, to build at the cheapest rates in town. What happens when you need to go ahead with that home extension or have an electrician or plumber come round and install or repair that ... whatever.

You phone around and get the more or less cheapest price and make some small endeavours to establish that the contractor is not a raving psychopath. Do you establish who their suppliers are, what efforts they make to empower their staff, what social initiatives they are involved in, do you make intentional efforts to wholeheartedly participate as a conscious consumer ...

... because it’s the (conscious and unconscious) consumer who’s ultimately going to determine which businesses succeed and which don’t, and therefore which businesses and business values (mindsets) landscape our tomorrow.

And as a conscious consumer, you aren’t just purchasing a product from a business, regardless of whether that purchase is just a loaf of bread or a motor vehicle, you are validating it’s moral and ethical standards, it’s internal and external vision and philosophy, and you’re saying, 'hey this is a business that represents my own material and spiritual values' (or as close as you can get), and you’re doing this with every single purchase, every single day of your life.

And absolutely, another dimension to being a conscious consumer is learning to resist the temptation to buy the unneeded garbage we have fallen into the habit of buying, but there is only so much you can live without. There is much that is needed and the problem is not one of knocking yourself back to the stone age and of living a sparse and uncomfortable life, but of making more aware and intelligent consumer choices.

You need ‘stuff’, but we need (your consumer choices affect my quality of life) the right stuff made by the right people, doing the right thing, and it’s expensive to do that.

Is it possible that you wholeheartedly participate as a conscious consumer when you're stoney broke. Is it even possible to talk of being a conscious consumer when you're not able to act on more conscious consumer information and choices available?

Sure, separate your garbage and buy that twinkie made from recycled donuts, but if you’re serious about solving global challenges and participating in the evolution of human beings, then you’re going to need to have the money to support the behaviour following on from your conscious consumer intentions, because it’s rapidly becoming insanely expensive to be a consciouses consumer.

And as with everything to do with the new mindset, it’s a process not an event.

I find myself consistently aware of my need to more deeply participate as a conscious consumer, which influences my need to earn more money, to more creatively and intelligently manage my business and develop better products that hold more real value, which means I need to better understand my niche and their needs and my own talents, which means take better care of myself, which principally means to master my mindset and therefore my behaviour, which means to flow more response-ably and not only make, but have the resources to follow through on better consumer choices.

It’s a cycle of ever deepening commitment to conscious living and of having the ability to respond to conscious choices, and without the money required to act on those insights and commitments, you inadvertently trap yourself in a soul destroying inconsistency between your highest intuition and your daily actions.

Money is not a problem, it’s a valuable tool that you can use to transform the way we do business and live our lives.


  1. Wow, Paul. It is amazing how when you look at being a conscious consumer, we are not always aware of the huge implications of our day-to-day choices as a consumer. In some areas, perhaps we are making conscious choices, like in the foods we eat, that directly impact on our lives, but how often do we really consider the impact our choices have on the lives of others, on an ongoing, all-emcompassing, day-to-day basis - not very often. Thank you for helping us become more aware. B

  2. Hey B
    Yea, the consequences of what we do and buy rumble across time and space and for most of us we only catch a wake-up when we're facing the long term, physical consequences. Part of Waking Up and Growing Up is beginning to becomes aware of the implications of our buying habits, before they becomes an unmitigated disaster for everyone. Thx for your feedback and the shout-out