The other day I received an alert regarding a shopping sale from one of the apps I had used few years ago. Seeing the mail reminded me of all the mindless hours I spent browsing through the shopping site. Back then, in my spare time I would reach out for my phone and add items to the cart or a ‘wish list’ even if I didn’t really need them. The app told me if something was trendy and in fashion and that alone made me feel like I wanted it for myself. ‘You are just one click away from looking chic!,’ they said. I believed them.
Industries are driven by our consumption and they start dictating what we need. And our insatiable consumption is driving up the carbon emissions that come from extracting resources and producing the products we consume. We live in a world where we have used up more resources than what our planet can generate. Therefore, it’s important that we rethink our consumer culture. And a big step towards that is by learning to slow down.
When I set upon the path to reduce my waste, one of the first things I did was to place a few constraints on my life. I stopped casually picking up a plastic water bottle from a store or ordering take-away food in disposable containers. Questions like ‘Is that the most green way to get there?’ and ‘Do I really need that?’ constantly ran in my head and they forced me to reconsider my everyday decisions. The world moved on but I started tailoring a new life along these self imposed restrictions.
Before heading out anywhere, I take a few seconds to fill my reusable water bottle and ensure that I carry it along. By eliminating ready-to-eat food or takeaways as options, I was able to spend my time in learning how to cook and find joy in it. In the pursuit of self-reliance, I started to learn how to make my own things (from toothpastes to all-purpose cleaners) instead of always relying on store-bought items.
Gradually, these habits taught me to take a pause once in a while. A pause to reexamine my actions – I don’t need to buy another dress just because it’s on sale. A breather before I dive into mundane activities – Is a plastic toothbrush and a paste in a plastic tube the best way to maintain my dental hygiene? The constraints I put on myself urge me to unwind and slow down – Why not dine-in? I am in no rush. By trying to figure out if something is the most sustainable option, it pushes my mind to be conscious about what I consume.
I haven’t reached my goal yet (far from it!), but I am enjoying the kind of reflection this path has brought. In this fast-paced world, where we all move like we are in auto-pilot, we tend to forget to be mindful about our actions. Maybe it’s time to sit back and observe. The plastic cup you disposed at lunch or the short flight you took for your holiday – take a moment to realize that every action and every thing you consume has an impact on the environment.
Diving into a sustainable lifestyle can be overwhelming. To overcome that, start by focusing on one aspect of your life. For example, if you find yourself in fast food chains too often, then try to cutback on that. Start planning your meals beforehand. Carry a healthy meal or snack in a lunchbox to avoid making a stop at a fast food joint. These habits require forethought which will encourage conscious living and help you save money. You can spend less time worrying about what you buy and learn to appreciate slow food!
It’s time for us to slowdown.
Today is a good day to start. To drive on the slow lane of life, to strive to live a sustainable lifestyle, and to be mindful and grateful.
Are you in?