The road to becoming a better consumer is paved with obstacles

There are times in your life when you think it’s time for a change. Whether it’s a new job or house, this is something that we’ve all taken for granted and that is part of our everyday. On the contrary, changing habits is difficult. There’s an excellent book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg which can help if you’re trying to make a radical change in your life. But what changes are we talking about exactly? I’d say those that make you get out of your comfort zone and which would make you immensely proud of yourself if you managed to really change them for good. I feel like I haven’t been in the correct mindset to accomplish anything meaningful in years. Then, once I felt ready, I managed to achieve one simple goal and all seemed doable. This is that experience I want to share with you today.

My goal was to become more ethical. I should probably say is’, because I’ll never be satisfied. I’d argue it’s good, because it makes you aware of your weaknesses and what you can do to find room for improvement. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the kind of person not smiling because I fear wrinkles or not drinking red wine because there’s alcohol in it. What I mean is that you can be yourself and enjoy life exactly like before, but change that one thing that makes you unhappy and/or uncomfortable.

Listen to your inner self

For me the trigger was to switch from Mac to Linux. I’ve always been a fanboy until I realized Apple was not the kind of multinational company I wanted to do business with any longer. Oh, I knew it of course, but it was easier to get a new iPhone and just forget about it. Until I could no longer pretend it wasn’t important. If there’s one thing you need to remember, it’s this: don’t try and change something if you don’t feel quite ready. You’ll fail and feel miserable. Trust me, I’ve been on a diet for my whole life and I know about such failures. Really, there’s no miracle recipe or Coué method that works for that kind of change. Just listen to your inner self to know when it’s time. If it never happens, so be it. You’re not a bad person either, right?

I could name a few more things I’ve accomplished since. The most important one is to have become a vegetarian. I would never ever have believed anybody telling me I’d manage to become one before. I even strongly believe if I could do it, everybody can. No, really, everybody. Switching from Gmail to ProtonMail or switching from Google Calendar, Flickr, Feedly and Dropbox to Owncloud was also a major (and demanding!) change. But it well worth it and there’s no going back. If you want to read the background on this, check out this other blog post.

Embrace contradictions

One crucial point is to accept you’re not perfect. You might want to ditch Apple products and keep buying Samsung phones. Yes, this is a real contradiction. So what? Look at the big picture: what you’ve accomplished is more important that what you might have accomplished in an ideal world. You won’t change the world alone. See what you’re doing as an enabler for people who are about to change and who simply need your impulse. I’ve been a vegeterian for one year and a half and I’ve already converted’ 2 people to this diet. I’m not really an evangelist, just talking about what I think is right for me. If certain people are following this, good for them!

What’s Next?

My Google Nexus phone (by LG) is unethical. LG is one of the worst manufacturers in the industry if I’m to believe the numerous ethical reports available on the internet. Considering the Fairphone or Jolla (?) option would seem like a better alternative. But it doesn’t stop here. What about Amazon, IKEA, Axa, Netflix, McDonals, Starbucks and others not paying taxes in the European countries they make a lot of profit in? See, becoming an ethical consumer is hard because it goes against what’s sensible to do for us at first glance: going to a local store instead of using the one-click button to buy any item from Amazon, getting a PC instead of the awesome Apple hardware that gives you a 10-hour long battery life, cooking more complicated veggie-based meals instead of a delicious T-Bone. The list goes on and on and on.


November 6, 2014