Most simply, it is to be aware, conscious of, and engaged with the impacts we make through our consumption choices. While consuming can include many different areas of focus, we will be primarily looking at consumption in regard to our spending habits. Whenever you spend money on something, you are supporting how that product is made, what it is made of, what it stands for. And once we embrace this mindset, we will start to feel more connected to our everyday choices and see that…
What we buy matters. Money is power. We vote with our dollar.
The principles of Mindful Consuming begin with asking yourself questions: “When I buy this product, where does my money go and does it support what I believe in?” If all of us were to consume more mindfully and begin financially supporting things that reflect our values, we could immediately transform our planet and the lives of its inhabitants for the better. At Mindful Consuming, we want to encourage you to always be mindful of the following questions before you make a purchase and vote in favor of something by spending your hard-earned money:
Who made it?
Where was it made?
How was it made?
Where and how was it grown?
What is it made of?
What happens to it after I’m done with it?
Where will the money go?
If the questions that we are asking or the issues that we bring up make you feel uncomfortable, we ask that you please pause, take a second, and ask yourself:
“Why is merely thinking about this issue making me more uncomfortable than participating in the current status quo, a status quo that is leading to such dire and devastating consequences?”
Many things need changing - and can be changed - but to do so, we are all going to have to be willing to get a little uncomfortable at first. We invite you to see this discomfort as a good thing, as discomfort is often a predecessor to change. The temporary discomfort caused by confronting uncomfortable realities pales in comparison to the long-term negative consequences that we will all suffer should our toxic and destructive status quo be maintained. This process will surely bring about new growth, and here at Mindful Consuming we also hope to prove to you that these challenges can be fun as well.
Think about just a handful of the stark realities of life today...Almost all of the plastic that has ever been created still exists, in some form or another, on our planet. Much of it might not ever fully go away, at least not in any of our lifetimes or the lifetimes of several generations to come. If current trends hold, within only three decades there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish, which is one of many reasons why the vast majority of us have detectable levels of plastics in our blood. We are also now witnessing the greatest mass extinction event since the time of the dinosaurs, and it is almost entirely human-caused. On the humanitarian side, income inequality is at an all-time high and in poorer parts of our world, women - and sometimes children - work in such deprived conditions that their labor is referred to as “modern-day slavery,” and in far too many cases, those jobs that help to perpetuate a cycle of extreme poverty have also proven deadly on a mass scale.
Almost all of us know these things (or we’re at least aware of some aspects of them) and find them to be appalling and morally wrong. So… WHY AREN’T THEY CHANGING?
While there are a lot of complexities surrounding these and many other critical issues, the answer to why things aren’t improving when so many of us want them to is universally simple: BECAUSE WE ARE ALL ACTIVELY AND COLLECTIVELY SUPPORTING THESE THINGS via our everyday, unconscious decisions, habits and especially our purchasing habits.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Humanity can and should be a force for good for our planet, and our ability to positively impact things isn’t even that far away, requiring only a change in thinking (going from mindless to mindful) to set us on the right path.
Mindful Consuming was created in hopes to positively shift culture.
We hope to do this by encouraging people to QUESTION their most ingrained habits and unconscious behaviors. We aim to connect our readers and followers with new insights, brilliant discussions, and - above all - we want to encourage all of you to challenge the status quo by asking RADICAL QUESTIONS. We want to be that tiny bee buzzing around your ear, that voice inside of your head, that bird resting on your shoulder - however you envision us - imploring you to question many of your own behaviors that were so habitual to your everyday existence that you didn’t even notice them or think about them before we came along. But we also promise to challenge and engage you in a way that is fun, exciting and inspiring.
The intention of Mindful Consuming is to encourage us all to do our part in changing our dangerous, ecologically-destructive culture of overconsumption. We aim to help build a supportive community of people embracing this challenge and what we feature on this site will hopefully inspire us to change our patterns of consumption to make positive impact. The podcast conversations that we have with community members of all backgrounds will give personal insights into the varied paths of mindful consuming, and it is our goal that this space will strengthen our resolve and positively nudge us all in the right direction.
Mindful Consuming is a platform aimed at facilitating important discussions that lead to changes in behavior…one purchase at a time.
As stated, the status quo is not working and overconsumption has devastated our planet and the health of its inhabitants. Even moderate consumption too often supports products that are being produced, used or disposed of in mindless, nonsensical, equally-devastating ways. Whether we are aware of it or not, all of us act as “impact investors” every single day of our lives. We invest in everything that we spend money on, quite literally voting with our dollars. In fact, spending our dollars is likely the most directly democratic action that the majority of us take. And in a world full of so many choices, it is often hard to know which choice is the “right” one, or in the very least, the “least harmful” option. The complexities of everyday life do not necessarily allow for a single, straightforward answer, but finding the best solutions always begins with one thing:
ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.
When it comes to Mindful Consuming, we believe that asking the right questions and facilitating important discussions is the crucial first step that must occur throughout our varied societies and cultures before any lasting, positively impactful solutions can be found and/or adopted. This site aims to serve as a platform for just that: exploring important ideas, thoroughly investigating complex subject matters related to consumption and, most importantly, asking radical questions. We hope that by doing this, we can inspire you to ponder, reflect upon and, especially, QUESTION your own choices and habits.
The rules that we live by…Mindful Consuming is enhanced when we work together and eliminate unnecessary competition.
We aim to encourage the notion of Mindful Consuming across all industries and areas. We know that if we want to change culture, we need all hands on deck. The issues that stem from obsessive consumerism are too dire and too critical for any one individual or group to insist that they have a monopoly on wisdom. The catastrophe that is mindless consumption can only be solved via relentless and unyielding cooperation and collaboration. This requires respect, open-mindedness and a willingness to listen on all fronts. Egos should never be allowed to be more important than the overall goal of saving our planet and improving quality of life. As our founder Ruth always says, “environmental egos get in the way of progress.”
There are many ways to be mindful and everyone can contribute something.
At Mindful Consuming we are focused on the imperfect, humbling process that goes into making better decisions. Perfection is never the goal. Even our founder is a “recovering mindless consumer” and she is not (and never will be) fully recovered. No step in the right direction is too small, for even the smallest steps can have large, cumulative impacts if carried out in the right way. We believe that the movement would gain momentum if it focused on the positive possibilities of our handprints, as much as it does the negative outcomes of our footprints.
Even if things wind up not panning out quite as we had anticipated, or if we wind up being proven wrong, we will always live by the mantra that the dumbest thing of all would be to sit on our hands and do nothing. With regards to the issues that we will be exploring, our belief will lie much more in line with “Why aren’t more people questioning this?” instead of “Should we question this?”
Accessibility and community are also at the core of our mission. The cycles of poverty, discrimination, social injustice and blatant racism that so often accompany manmade environmental crises are EXACTLY what we are fighting against when we talk about wanting to encourage ALL of us to consume mindfully. We promise to only promote and support people, products, companies, movements and ideas that share this critical understanding.
We also very much mean that things shouldn’t be too complicated in the real world, as well. Modern-day life is complex, but if the process of how so many of our products are made is unknown or (worse) can’t be explained, then there is something wrong. Such ignorance should not be tolerated in such a high tech, interconnected world. It just doesn’t make sense that social media companies can use facial-recognition technologies to identify human beings, yet large corporations can’t trace the origins, ethics and proper disposal of their own products. The idea of farm-to-table, asking and knowing where our food comes from, is no longer a radical one, and has very much been accepted into the mainstream consciousness. We believe that we should be able to have the same level of basic understanding about our stuff, as well.
Holy shit, this should be fun!
All of the decisions that we make everyday matter and all have a ripple effect of some kind. However, we do not want understanding that to be an exhausting experience, but rather a motivating and inspiring one. We also want this process to be as entertaining, fun and as funny as possible, and we hope that that underlying concept will also be a prevalent thread running through everything that we do. Improving the world should bring joy, and we intend to make it that way!
Looking at things differently and being fearless and bold quite literally runs in our DNA thanks to founder Ruth True. Anyone who knows Ruth would say that describing her and summing up her life is nearly as impossible as she is. Here’s our best shot: Ruth can be impossible. She both does the impossible (or at least the highly improbable) and, lucky for us all, doesn’t always understand the word “no.”
When Ruth decided to create Nube9, the first line of athletic and athleisure wear made from recycled plastic bottles in the U.S., knowing next-to-nothing about the apparel industry, she didn’t let that stop her. She simply walked the streets of the garment district in LA until she found someone who was able to help turn her ideas into the apparel that Nube9 sells today. When she didn’t know how to turn recycled plastic bottles into high-performance polyester fabric, she didn’t let that stop her either. She made phone calls and spoke to fabric developers and went through many series of trials and errors until she was satisfied. When she purchased a 1500-pound dye sublimation press to print designs onto her finally perfected fabric, and then afterwards found a studio location that she thought was calling her name… only to learn that the hallways of the historic building were too narrow for the giant press to fit through… she didn’t let that stop her either. Nope. She simply had the second-story windows of their new studio removed, and then hired a forklift to lift the press up and slide it through the window holes.
Ruth also opened her own eco-conscious mercantile, Nube Green, when she had trouble finding things that were sustainable and made and sourced in the U.S. She was a woman on a mission, storming through the New York Gift Show, looking for merchandise to fill her store, not afraid to piss people off by asking, “What is this made of? Where was it made? Who made it?” and then not buying anything that didn’t meet her high standards. When she couldn’t find enough sustainable, American-sourced products to fill her store, she commissioned things from artists she knew and started her own furniture and clothing lines.
Ruth’s deep appreciation and support for the arts led her to co-found Western Bridge, a gallery in the industrial SODO district in south Seattle in 2004. Unlike any other establishment at the time, it was free to the public and was known by many as the “anti-art-circle” gallery. There was no marketing or advertising - only an email list that could be joined by anyone who was interested. Show openings often came with food trucks and lots of party crashers, and all were welcome. At least one piece of art from every show was given to the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, with other museums being gifted, as well. Enjoyed for 8 years by anyone who walked in the door, the premise behind Western Bridge was that art should bring people from all backgrounds and all levels of art-appreciation together.
Even Ruth’s home is a bit impossible/improbable, as along with art Ruth has been a collector of people, in the best sense of the phrase. Her “adopted children” and extended family members ranging from employees to artists whose work they support to political activists whose causes they help champion. Much like Western Bridge, Ruth generously welcomed others into her home as hosts of dinners, fundraisers, and community-supporting events of all kinds.
Ruth continues to be involved with many other projects that are inspired by the overarching values of Mindful Consuming. In addition to Nube, Ruth is in partnership with Regenerated Textiles, a project aiming to address textile waste and build a circular economy with continuous renewable resources. Fueled by her understanding of the importance of self-care and the broadening scope of treatment, she is now involved in the early stages of developing an alternative wellness center. Ruth is also on the board of Forterra, a Washington non-profit whose mission is to protect, enhance, and steward the region’s landscapes and communities. Along with running her businesses and remaining steadfast with her civic responsibilities, she also somehow manages to do her favorite thing of all - care for and feed her family (five children, four grandchildren and many dogs and grand-dogs) and the many friends she regularly hosts.
The overarching values of the Mindful Consuming platform are the proverbial North Star to all of Ruth’s ongoing projects.