My Journey Toward Conscious Consumerism Part 1: Support the Small Business
I sat there on Etsy, staring at my checkout cart. Was it worth it? I looked at 5-10 more shops, just to make sure I had all my bases covered. Should I? Shouldn't I? Based on the mental gymnastics happening in my brain, one would think I was making a large purchase, perhaps an expensive piece of wall art, or a custom painted dresser. What was I actually buying? Jam. Yes, jam. The sugary fruit spread one enjoys on toast or on a fresh baked scone. Also, local honey. Essentially, two jars of sugar with different flavors and consistency.
What prompted a brain anguishing 15 minute debate over jam? The reservations I had for paying $9.95 in shipping to support a small Ohio business. You see, I have been actively trying to be a lot more conscious of my purchasing. As you know, I talk about conscious convenience a lot- how can we implement mindfulness into our purchasing and behavior without it becoming a total pain in the ass for our busy lives? During quarantine, I have taken an even deeper look into this concept. Perhaps the deep dive was prompted by imagining a world after quarantine where there were no small businesses left- only soulless big box stores and and endless parking lots of fast food restaurants, littered with wrappers and half eaten grade D hamburgers.
My heart went out to the small business owners who had a dream for a flower shop, an eclectic market, a farm to table restaurant, a fitness facility; all of the people who went against the grain and took a chance to make their dream into a reality. All of the creatives who spent time making beautiful products, home decor, pottery, jewelry, clothing. Would they all make it? Would they all be forced to work in an Amazon fulfillment center because we all prefer to have our stuff cheap, fast, and with free shipping?
Anyway, back to the jam. Back to the shipping cost debate. By nature, I am a frugal person. I have always been one to look for a steal and a deal. It has taken me a long time to come around to the concept of paying more for a better quality item. Even now, I thought $9.95 for shipping to purchase jam and honey was kind of silly. However, now that I have my own micro business and have to ship things, I get a little sick when I see what people have to pay for shipping when they purchase my items. I am so grateful they are willing to pay $8-11 in shipping to purchase a candle or some body products. Amazon has kind of ruined us. Conditioned us to expect nothing less than a great deal, free shipping, and it better damn well get here in two days.
In the end, I bought the jam and honey from the small business. I realized that I am fortunate enough where an extra $10 doesn't affect me in terms of having food on the table, paying my bills, or saving for retirement. I wanted to support this person who is taking their loving time and energy to make something by hand. I wanted to support a person, their family, their livelihood, not a large corporation who wants to cut corners, fill everything with cheap ingredients, and the jam gets squirted out of a robot arm or however they do it.
Aesthetically, from a design and label standpoint, it has a lot to be desired, LOL. But damn, it's good jam. Also, perfect jar to reuse for a candle or body butter. Side note- I didn't know Amish people were allowed to use Etsy? Maybe times have changed.
I am not by any means encouraging you to live in poverty so you can buy artisanal fruit spreads from a small business. I am just sharing my mindset shifts and the thought processes I am undertaking before I purchase certain things. Could I purchase the item locally? Could I find a more unique gift on Etsy instead of perusing Home Goods? Am I willing to pay a bit more for this item because it is ethically produced or supports a good cause? This doesn't mean my Amazon or big box shopping is over. It is a balance between mindfulness, reality, and plain old bottom dollar cost sometimes.
I have a lot of thoughts on mindful purchasing and all it entails. In my next blog post, I will explore overconsumption, compulsive purchasing, and the beginning steps of my clutter overhaul. I am working on my closet right now, and let me tell you, I have a LOT of crap. Let me know your thoughts about this post and supporting small businesses in the comments- what do you think about before you spend? What are your top criteria? Cost? Quality? Where it's made? I would love to know!