When we start to become more conscious of how our spending impacts the planet, we have the potential, not only to hold on to more of our money but also to create more connection with the things in our lives.
It takes a bit of effort, but I believe it’s worth it.
Being on social media can create enormous feelings of inadequacy. When we follow our friends on their fabulous vacations and watch lifestyle bloggers showcase the newest and coolest thing out there, we often find ourselves wanting.
And once we’re online, it’s very easy to click and buy—especially when our credit card details are saved on our computer. Sales on whatever we have searched for linger and pop up in sidebars all the time. You search for one thing and, volia, it stays in your feed reminding you to buy it. Sometimes, the FOMO of a good deal is just too much.
We could do a social media detox and remove our credit card details from “auto-fill” to make it harder to spend. That works for some people. But when they get back online, they are drawn into temptation again.
In my experience, when we start to inform ourselves of the impact of our spending, we are able to create a deeper and more lasting connection to what we buy.
For example, the level of packaging that comes with most of our online purchases is ridiculous. If we want to reduce the waste we generate, going to a store and buying what we need is the best solution. Or better yet, go on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, or visit a second-hand store and see if someone is selling what you want, slightly used or still in the box. You’ll almost definitely save money.
If we start to look at things through a “plastic lens,” our spending will also change. Thinking about all those plastic toys for kids and the overly packaged products for our skin and hair can make us look at our spending differently. I am not saying to stop spending, but every time you want to buy something go through a checklist:
Can I go to a local store and buy this?
Can I check Craigslist and FB Marketplace first?
If it is all plastic… Is there an alternative to this?
Was it produced on the other side of the world, or was it made closer to home with a smaller environmental footprint?
Do I really need that new outfit?
Can I buy a shaver and make my shirts and sweaters look like new again?
Am I buying clothing that will fall apart in six months?
Is this style classic or trending? A classic look will last longer.
Taking the time to do this may seem daunting, but it not only does it save money in the long run; it also gives you a sense of agency. You will start to realize that you are part of something good.
By giving up “keeping up with the Joneses,” you may become someone who stewards the planet and helps bring our financial systems into better balance. The feeling you get from doing this on a regular basis may even curb those feelings of FOMO or scarcity. One thing I know for sure is that doing this nurtures something that each one of us has: a desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
Many of my clients who were impulsive spenders and very connected to their social images have noticed that, by focusing on the impacts of their consumption, their spending has changed. They now feel secure and confident in their choices—no longer less than those with all the riches on their social media feeds.
It’s amazing how these practices change us inside. And it’s a process.
The truth is that we will slip up, and we will have to contend with the guilt of not aligning 100% with our values and intentions. That’s okay. It’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about making choices, most of the time, that fit the sustainability standards we commit to. When we do this, it’s amazing how our lives change—on the inside and the outside!