Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What is Conscious Spending?

It seemed like a good idea to start at the top to speak and explain what Conscious Spending means to us—especially as were are striving to be a sustainable business by providing online greeting cards as an environmentally friendly alternative for “conscious spenders". Like many things in life this post has turned into an unexpected adventure.

I started by defining the parts to clarify the whole. The most appropriate definitions of “conscious” from Webster’s dictionary are: 1: perceiving, apprehending, or noticing with a degree of controlled thought or observation, and 7: done or acting with critical awareness and 8b: being concerned or interested.

So far so good: a conscious spender would make purchase decisions by combining their concerns and awareness of the environment and social justice with a focused and critical decision making process. Or: they would think and reflect before acting.

And then the adventure began: The most appropriate definitions for “Spend” are: 1: to use up or pay out, or 2 a: Exhaust, wear out, b: to consume wastefully. Oops. It seems to me that a conscious person wouldn’t want to purchase something under any of these definitions—consuming wastefully is precisely what got us to where we are today.

Here is where a bit of self disclosure is in order—you may have noticed that the name of our blog is “conscious spending”. In hindsight, this is not a great name. We picked it because we were focused on action (setting up the blog) rather than thinking and reflecting before acting. So we’ve created a fantastic real world example of how not to make a decision and/or make a purchase. If we would’ve done more research we would have come up with another name. Let’s continue the research together:

Some have started using the phrase “conscious consumerism” (as have we at times). Consumerism is defined as “the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable; also: a preoccupation with and an inclination toward the buying of goods”. Again this is exactly the theory and behavior that we’re trying to challenge.

How about consumer? I’m sure you already know where this is heading: 1: one that consumes : as a: one that utilizes economic goods b: an organism requiring complex organic compounds for food which it obtains by preying on other organisms or by eating particles of organic matter. Actually not all that bad, we all have to consume (eating and drinking come to mind) but still not quite the message we’re trying to promote. (I had to leave the last part in for some dark humor-the phrase “preying on other organisms” just hits too close to home.)

How about conscious customer? 1: one that purchases a commodity or service. Viola! Finally, a simple and clear definition of the action required to complete a purchase without the added burden of having to do more and more of it.

We’re ALL customers in one form or another and that in itself is not unhealthy to society or the environment. Of course it what and how often we buy that would define us as a consumer, spender or a Conscious customer.


Misslane said...

Thanks for sharing your blog on consumerism and conscious spending.
Its an area I have often thought about.I appreciate your efforts to educate us regarding the importance of cutting back and consciously making the effort to trim our spending and realize whats really important. Having more "Stuff" just isn't all its cracked up to be!

leaflover said...

thanks for your support! It's indeed about the needs not just our wants and also how and who we support...we can make a difference by our actions and choices!