Eleanor Rigby

The Conscious Consumer

Eleanor Rigby
The Conscious Consumer

In my first blog I said, “nobody needs at $700 facial product package.” But I don’t want this to be misread as a judgment on people who do purchase luxury items. I, more than most, can spot a real Prada bag from an excellent fake in under 2 minutes. Aside from a closet Prada love affair, I’m not sure if you’re starting to notice my product choice trend, but more seriously, how? Because I understand the art of couture and my education on the delicate details and time put into these items makes me appreciate them with great respect. There are many beautiful things in the world, no business is perfect, buy what makes you happy, but try to be a conscious consumer. 

We can take the time to appreciate quality over quantity. We can be aware as to what is a need and what is a want. Understand that eventually every product will be offered to someone else in some way or another. Is this something worth giving to someone? Consider for a moment where these items are made.  Decide if it’s an operation you can support. Is it in line with your values? Does it promote the type of care the planet and the people on it deserve? In no way am I trying to put a guilt trip on anyone, that wouldn’t be useful, but our purchasing behaviors make an impact. Who is creating and selling this product? Does that matter to us? We can’t police every purchasing decision we make. After a seven hour work day on two cups of coffee and only a McDonald’s on the way home can justify anyone stopping to eat a big mac and fries. But we can take small steps. Knowing the people you purchase from is an excellent way to easily identify with what you are buying. Creating and selling items of utility and beauty with love or purchasing something that is made and sold locally benefits the entire community.

Robert Thurman, a professor at Columbia University, reflects that the first capitalistic system was found among monks who created items for the community to raise money for projects in the community. Today, when we think of capitalism, we think of large, greedy corporations who have created a negative connotation of the word. But this history of capitalism is something worth revisiting. I see the continuity of this theme, giving, happening in the Grand Rapids area with businesses such as Light Gallery + Studio, whose owners make great lifestyle sacrifices to keep a gallery open that sells the work of local artists and creatives. They believe in the the positive impact that the arts have on a community and have sustained an outlet for the artists to share their objects of intimate expression. The more I speak with entrepreneurs in our community, the more I understand how many of our services come from the heart. 

If you’re drawn to this publication, my guess is that these things matter to you. These are the types of discussions you want to keep generating.  It’s the type of awareness you’re drawn to expand upon. This is one of the many reasons that you love to support local businesses and creatives. When you shop small, this information and these conversations are easily accessible. You can walk right up to the creator and ask them in a few short minutes what they are all about and how their items came about.  Face to face personal interaction and transparency of our purposes and missions are a great benefit that we try to promote at the monthly Indie Flea markets. Make a profit, grow your business to a level that you personally identify with as success, but care about how you do it. Your emerging business today may run the business world tomorrow. You have the choice to make a positive change or contribute to the wheel of consumer addiction, mass production and exploitation of global resources. 

Who is Ms. Merchant, or Mr. Merchant? Well, for one thing, we care about these things and we put care, passion and purpose into the unique things we offer the community. And that is why we are going to continue to highlight some of the local businesses making great steps towards creating a caring community right here. Get ready for some shopping addiction-worthy businesses that are guilt free.