Friday, March 12, 2010

What is a Conscious Consumer?


Money, wealth, and abundance are complicated concepts for the yogi who wants to extend the philosophy of yoga into her everyday life.

In the name of living our yoga, we spend more money on organic items, buy fair-trade and goods made in the USA, and we donate our old yoga mats to those who are less fortunate. But, if we're really being honest with ourselves, these are all things that we reap benefits from ourselves, too. We feel like we've done our good deed for the day by helping the environment or supporting fair wages for others, and we've helped ourselves become healthier, boosted our images as conscious yogis, and cleaned out our closets at the same time. Everybody wins, right?

At the same time, I don't think twice about spending $18 on one yoga class. My dog eats better than many of the children living in low-income homes in Downtown Oakland (yes, right down the street from where I'm sitting right now). And if I stop buying overpriced organic and fair trade products, I wouldn't have to hurt the environment driving to Whole Foods AND I could afford to donate a lot more than a yoga mat to people in Haiti.

With each purchase and donation, we make a choice prioritizing which lives are most worthy of saving. People or the environment? People or animals? Local or Third-World children?

Could my commitment to being a "conscious consumer" be less helpful to the world, than I've been led to believe? If my intentions are really to make the world as a whole a better place as a whole (as opposed to my own narrow view of the world) would my spending habits change? Is my yoga practice really inspiring those choices, or am I allowing myself to be led by the big businesses yoga machine that boosts its bottom line by taking advantage of my efforts to live consciously?

It seems there are no right answers, but I think these are important questions to ask. What do you think?

See also:
Fashion Forward, Yoga Backward