Can we unlearn ‘wanting’ while it’s still a choice?

Is conscious consumerism just a red-herring? Stuff - regardless of how eco-ethically it is made, is still just stuff that fills an emotional void. So here's a question that's been playing on my mind a lot of late.

A woman holds up an Amazon box, but the Amazon smile is upside down

Conscious Consumerism: A red-herring?

I want to be clear here, in case my ramblings are too diluted in detail. I am questioning our superficial wants (irrespective of how these objects of desire are produced) not our genuine needs. I’m also keeping this musing devoid of specific examples to not confuse those who cannot see past the ‘singular’ nor understand that the concept of this thought can be applied to all and any.

I’m complicit. I, like you, am only human. I desire beautiful things made with care. I buy things to ‘fill space’. And then I blink, and I feel suffocated by things that I didn’t truly need.

If I am honest, I don’t know that we can as a society. Not before it’s our wanting is ripped away because of biodiversity collapse and climate breakdown put a hard stop on natural resource availability. That’s the pessimist in me. We are so conditioned to misuse ‘want’ and ‘need’. We will never solve overconsumption if we are only ever looking at the symptoms. Not considering the emotional tangibility of desire for ‘stuff’. Stuff that fills but never truly fulfils.

Of course, I am not the only one who thinks these things. There are many before me (this is, after all, what minimalism is rooted in. Gandhi, of course, a Master in this way of life, as too are the Buddhists who have sought spiritual enlightenment for centuries) and many will follow.

The optimist in me, however, hopes that we can unlearn wanting, like those who have come before and proven it possible. It is hope that drives me to help contribute to solutions that drive change. A change in how we think, see and feel about the world we want to live in and work for (in the flawless words of Donella Meadows). A change in how we value the beauty that nature has to offer, in how time with loved ones is what we strive for, in how doing things over owning things can make our world a richer, more vibrant place to exist. 

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