Earth Day: 10 Simple Ways I’m Rebelling Against the Consumer Mentality

I’ve been thinking about the titles we give past civilizations…. The Mound Builders, the Crusaders, the Explorers, and more. Those who study the past have identified broad characteristics of those who lived during those times and named them accordingly. This leads me to ask the following question: 

“In a 1,000 years, what will our civilization be called?”

I strongly believe we are The Consumers.

Earth Day: 10 Simple Ways I'm Rebelling Against the Consumer Mentality

It makes sense, really. Our culture has a seemingly insatiable appetite.

We consume food–lots of it. And the rest we throw away.

We consume products. The average American tosses about 4.4 pounds of trash every single day.

We consume entertainment. Americans spend more than 11 hours a day watching, reading, listening to, or consuming media.

We eat. We buy. We watch. And we’re never satisfied.

We are The Consumers.

I’ve seen my own behavior of consumerism. I’ve eaten its fruit and believed its lies. And I’ve decided I’m ready for a little rebellion.

Now, I’m no earth scientist. I’ve never chained myself to a tree. But like most revolutions, I know that change starts with people like me. So, in my picturesque little corner of the world, I’m discovering quiet ways I can defy the label of Consumer.

Here are ten simple ways I’m starting a quiet consumer rebellion. 

  1. Visiting stores less often and planning carefully. The fewer products I see, the less I buy.
  2. Borrowing instead of buying. When I need a handful of penlights for a school activity, I could go on Amazon and buy a pack of 10, which will languish in a drawer – then later, a landfill, after I buy them.  Or, I can reach out and borrow what I need from friends.
  3. Saying no to the pressure of party favors. Instead of sending my kids’ friends home with a plastic bag full of birthday trinkets, we send each home with a favorite, gently-used book.
  4. Choosing sustainability over convenience. Are paper towels convenient for cleaning up spills? Sure. But when you have small children, spills often happen multiple times a day. I’ll take the inconvenience of wringing out and washing a dishcloth, instead of sending a dozen paper towels to the landfill a day.
  5. Exercising my “No” muscle. A wise woman once told me that it’s healthy to exercise our self-control on a regular basis. When I see something I want to buy, that I can afford, and that I can justify purchasing, it’s a powerful choice to say “No” to it anyway.
  6. Wasting less food. I’m scouring the fridge and cupboards for leftovers, and inventing new meals. I’m serving my kids just enough, knowing they can always ask for more. I’m growing a simple little garden, with just enough food for my family to eat during the summer.
  7. Taking a few extra minutes to recycle. Even at my busiest, I can still choose to recycle over tossing something in the trash.
  8. Buying secondhand. Items like bikes, basketballs, garden hoses and clothing can be found at thrift stores and garage sales.
  9. Pursuing contentment. When I start to think that certain shoes, or a remodeled kitchen, or any other thing is just around the corner to happiness and satisfaction, I take a step back and remember that happiness is never found in things – despite how beautiful they may be.
  10. Learning. I know that I have miles to grow when it comes to living a more sustainable lifestyle. But I’m listening and willing to change.

These aren’t radical ideas, I know. But, little by little, I’m hoping to change my label from Consumer to Content.

What are some of the small (or big) ways you’re rejecting the label of Consumer?

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