|“Human beings are primarily focused on themselves. Capitalism, probably the most successful economic system the world has ever known, is built on that understanding. For what motivates us more than anything else is the desire to do better and to earn more so that we can have more. And it works.”|
—Terry Bookman in A Soul’s Journey As I’m beginning to grow in my mindfulness journey, I’m realizing how true this quote is. As a human being, I find myself constantly thinking about myself, what I want, and how I can get it. Our product/consumer system is absolutely built on that fact and thrives on it. During this course, one of my goals is to develop humble and compassionate responses to wicked problems. To do that, we must self-reflect. While thinking about the quote by Terry Bookman, I realize that to fix the problem of over consumption and production, we must become less focused on ourselves. In response to what I have learned about how our daily habits impact our ecosystem, I have begun to change my thinking by becoming more mindful. One way I have discovered to become more mindful, is by using my resources before buying more. One example of this is with food. Before going to the grocery store, I go through my fridge and pantry and make a list of everything I have. Then, I make a list of all the things I can make with what I have. Once I have used everything I can, then I go to the store and purchase more food. Another way I have become more mindful is by decreasing my cosmetic purchases. Normally, when I wanted or thought of a lotion, face wash, makeup product I would buy it, whether or not I already had a similar product. Now, I do not purchase any cosmetic product until I have completely used up my current products. This is a much more humble, compassionate way to consume food and cosmetics. One way this course has brought a compassionate curiosity into my decision making, is by making me reconsider replacing things so quickly. For example: I needed a bedside table for my new room. I didn’t have one, so I was considering shopping for one. Then I considered the fact that I didn’t need to purchase an item that would be sure to go out of style, and later go to waste. So, I retrieved an old side table that we used to use in our living. It had cracked down the middle, and the stain was peeling. I fixed the old piece of furniture and re-stained it. I made this old, broken piece of furniture into my style and kept it from going to waste. Mindfulness has changed many of my regular habits, and in turn has saved me time and money. Another example of mindfulness changing my habits is not eating fast food. As we all know, fast food is not healthy for us in any way. It is full of grease and lacks proper nutrients. Aside from this, it is wrapped in plastic, that instantly adds waste to our ecosystem. Not only this, when I would eat fast food, I would be wasting the food I had already bought at the grocery store. I have also begun to meal prep, by planning out my meals before going to the grocery store. This keeps me from buying fresh foods that will go to waste.
As I continue to become more mindful, I think more about small decision like buying Starbucks coffee that comes in a plastic cup, when I already have purchased coffee at home. Another thing I am now more considerate about is school supplies. Rather than buying all new notebooks this year, I cleaned out my used paper and continued using my old notebooks. Wasting that much paper and plastic is unnecessary, when I can simple relabel the notebook and clean out the old pages.
Another way mindfulness has helped me in my sustainability journey, is by reminding me to be grateful. When I am being mindful, and “in the moment”, I am much more grateful for the things I already have. I don’t feel the need to purchase more, because I realize that I already have more than what I need. I don’t need another cosmetic product, another fast-food meal, or another piece of furniture. I need to be grateful for what I have, while using it wisely, and disposing of my waste properly. Another way of thinking about wicked problems, is by thinking about our future generations. Rather than being so focused on ourselves, we must consider our future generations. Our normal habits could eventually ruin nature and the ecosystem as we know it today. In that case, they would ever know the world we get to enjoy every day.
My mindfulness practice has also impacted the type of product I buy when I do make purchases. For example, when I do run out of my current cosmetic product and decide to purchase another, I am more conscious of the type of packaging it is in. I now consider whether or not the packaging will be harmful to the environment or not. I also consider whether or not the product itself is full of chemicals, or a natural product. This type of thinking can be applied to many types of products such as cleaning supplies, medications, and scented products.
Overall, mindful thinking has truly impacted my purchasing habits. It has saved me time and money and helped me become more present and grateful. I’ve become more curious about how to help preserve our ecosystem by changing my habits and learning how my actions effect nature. I plan on continuing my mindfulness journey, in order to keep improving my habits, and becoming more aware of how my actions influence my surroundings. This class has definitely made me more open minded to purchasing “green” products and purchasing with more discretion. After all if you “look after the land the land will look after you, destroy the land and it will destroy you.” – Aboriginal Proverb