Why conscious consumption is a lie

Off the back of Black Friday, which was incredibly stressful (anyone else feel that it stressed them out?), with every single business handing out discounts like drugs at a concert, even the ethical ones, I’ve come to a realisation about purchasing ethical, organic and sustainable.

If an alternative that ticks all the above boxes exists, I want it. I convince myself that I totally need it, even the ethically made organic wooden plane toy that my son does not give a toss about and will literally throw onto the floor because he’s only 11 months old and cares more for opening every drawer in my kitchen to give me a heart attack over the safety of his fingers.

My daughters’ room is starting to look cluttered again after I decluttered it a few months ago because I purchased them dolls from Vinnies (which they have forgotten all about as they sit perched up on a wicker doll’s chair because wicker/rattan is #trending right now and of course I need it so their room looks Insta-worthy) and ethically made girl’s dresses in pretty florals are taking up space in their closets. And on their floor. And on their beds.

I got my keep cups in my kitchen cupboards, and my glass drink bottles to use instead of buying plastic bottles (but I keep buying bottled water whilst out because I keep forgetting to take the glass drink bottle with me).

With all this spending, I’ve had an epiphany, also aided by watching depressing apocalyptic videos of 50% of the world’s animals going extinct and how our children are basically facing a future of wars over food, land, water, ALL THE NECESSITIES OF SURVIVAL AND FML WHY DID I HAVE THREE KIDS?!! and the fact that my house is being cluttered by stuff all over again and I feel guilty every time the postman delivers something to my door and my HUSBAND IS HOME AND IS TOTALLY JUDGING ME as I try to justify the eco-friendly, ethical, organic purchase I’ve just made for the 100th time…

You guys, we’re all being jibbed. Conscious consumption is a lie.

There.

I said it.

It’s a lie because it is still based on consuming. It still requires us to keep spending on stuff. Stuff we don’t actually need. Stuff that is actually very expensive.

This article here argues why conscious consumption is failing. It also outlines what we can do instead.

And the solution is brilliant.

In short, spend your money on supporting organisations, politicians and movements that are trying to make the big changes. Changes in the way businesses trade, and use resources.

It also suggests that we should be giving our time to volunteering, rather than giving our money to companies “who are getting it right”.

Personally, I think it is still important to make ethical buying decisions, where you can.

But I have the increasing sense that what we need more than seeking out these ethical companies to purchase from, is a shift in our paradigms. We need to tackle our consumerist mind frames, our need, our urges, our desire to spend, to buy new things, to accumulate things, before we start seeking out ethical companies to purchase things from.

And most importantly, we need to recognise that giving our time in service, in volunteering and in activism is the most effective way to make our voices heard.

We need to make our voices heard in a way that goes beyond the constrains of money, because let’s face it, this is about the future of our children and our children are worth the struggle to change our consumerist paradigms… aren’t they?

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Photos by Z by Zahrah. Not to be used without permission.

Four great children’s books

What makes a great children’s book?

To me, it needs beautiful illustrations, an engaging story, fantastical facts and interactive activities.

I picked up the following four books recently which have all of the above and they have been on high rotation with the girls lately…

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“Women who Dared: 52 Stories of Fearless Daredevils, adventurers & rebels” 

This one had me at the title. It’s the second book I’ve bought for the girls about women who have dared to achieve their dreams. We haven’t gotten through it yet, but we have loved reading stories of strong and courageous women, and the illustrations are just lovely.

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Day of the Dinosaurs

My daughters are obsessed with dinsaurs, thanks in part to watching marathon sessions of Dinosaur Train whilst I clean the house, or put baby to sleep. I love how this book is interactive, jam-packed with facts and beautifully illustrated.

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Nature’s Day: Out and About

To be honest, I picked this one up because of the pretty front cover. Don’t judge a book by its cover? I’d have to disagree in this instance. Once we brought it home and opened it up, I realised just how brilliant this book is. It’s a companion to the book “Nature’s Day”, which we happen to have… in Turkish… we bought it from Turkey whilst holidaying there last year.

This one takes the reader through each season and has colouring pages, activities and craft ideas. A must for every child. Seriously.

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The Anti-Boredom Book of Brilliant Outdoor Things to Do

I think the title sums this one up.

It. Is. Brilliant.

My kids have been making paper planes, and paper frisbees, and… that’s all we’ve done so far lol. BUT! There are some solid ideas for outdoor activities, for all ages.

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What do you think makes a great children’s book? Which books are on high rotation at your house?

Will the real YOU please stand up?

As I scroll through my Instagram feed lately I feel like I am literally seeing the same picture over and over again.

Everybody obviously follows accounts that interest them, so as a mother I follow a lot of parenting/home decor/mummy bloggers/lifestyle accounts.

People. I literally see the same photo OVER AND OVER again. The same kids bedroom styled with EXACTLY the same products from EXACTLY the same stores. Let me give you the formula:

Canopy + vintage bunting + IKEA Minnen kid’s bed frame + folkloric wallpaper + wooden accordion peg holder + something rattan + creepy big eyed circus hybrid human/animal picture art = INSTA PERFECT KID’S ROOM.

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I basically see this room over and over on my IG feed… 

And guess what?

THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT MY DAUGHTERS’ ROOM LOOKS LIKE. Minus the creepy big eyed circus hybrid human/animal picture art because, creepy.

The other day, I looked around my girls’ room and realised that I had been victim to the Instagram Effect.

What is the Instagram Effect you ask? I’ve provided an authoritative (authority being me of course- I hope you’re picking up on my very dry sarcasm here) definition below…

Instagram Effect (definition): Best described as the way Instagram subconsciously shapes your interests, likes, dislikes, tastes and consumption habits and results ultimately in everybody looking exactly the same because all purchase the same products because all “influencers” are “sponsored” by the same businesses. 

So whatever subculture you find yourself in, I can guarantee that you all look like, think like, act like, consume like, each other.

Now you might say, hang on, doesn’t that happen anyway, regardless of social media?

Yes. I suppose to an extent it does.

But social media has taken it and increased the potential for creating sameness in subcultures to another level.

When I had my life-changing, earth-quaking realisation that my kids’ room literally looked like a copy-paste of all kids rooms on Instagram, I literally felt sick. I mean, did I even really like this look? DOES IT EVEN MATTER WHAT A 3 YEAR OLD AND A 5 YEAR OLD’S ROOM LOOKS LIKE?!!! And I felt sick at how much their room had become cluttered with stuff… stuff that I had wasted money on, stuff that they did not care an inch about. Sure they liked their rooms, but left to their own devices, they wouldn’t care what their room looked like.

What I’m trying to say, but obviously failing to do so in an articulate manner, is this:

Social media has not only made it so easy to copy one another, it is actually resulting in everybody thinking and being the same. It has legitimised the sheep potential of human beings. And companies are making big money from it.

Not only does everybody now look the same, and their homes look the same, but more dangerously, everybody now thinks the same. What does it mean for a hashtag to be “trending”? It means that everybody is jumping on that hashtag bandwagon and giving it legitimacy without questioning whether they believe it is right or not because a celebrity used the hashtag (most of the time accompanied by a picture of themselves with no extended caption explaining their actual thoughts).

What does it mean for someone to have millions of “followers” on Instagram or Twitter? I know for a fact that when I’m scrolling through IG and see that someone has less than a few thousand followers, I would be less inclined to follow them. Or have a proper look through their feed.

And then I realised that I was doing this and again, I felt sickened by myself.

Social media is increasingly creating a mono-culture, a culture that pressures people into sameness. Sameness in the way we dress, the way we consume, the way we style our homes, and even in the way we think, what opinions we are allowed to have, and therefore, even in the experiences we should be having.

So, the next time you are on social media, stop and think if what you are reading or seeing is right for you.

Maybe step away from social media, and even the news for a time, and read a book. Spend time understanding who you are, what your values are.

And don’t be afraid to stand by them. You don’t need to get judge-y, you don’t need to trawl people’s pages and become keyboard warriors and shout your values at them. That’s not what I mean.

Just know who you are. 

And be quietly courageous in this knowledge.

Don’t get swept up in the tide of hashtags, and “influencers” with their millions of followers. Take back the power to decide who/what influences you.

Make it a conscious choice.