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How Do You Justify Your Consumption?

We live in a very consumer driven society. As you probably know, consumerism is hard to reconcile with a sustainable lifestyle. If you are always consuming resources, and not putting any back, it’s hard to life sustainably.

It’s true that, even though I try to live greener, and even though I am working toward improving my sustainability, I still probably consume more than I should. And, when I feel bad about it, I tend to find ways to justify my consumption.

Some of the ways that I justify my consumption include:

  • Need: Many of us feel as though we need something. From cell phones to TVs, electronic devices are often the culprits. And I am definitely guilty. I have a desktop and a laptop. I need both for my work, so the fact that they are largely made from not-green components is something I accept.
  • It’s greener in the long run: This is my justification for the Kindle. I haven’t bought a hard copy book since purchasing the Kindle, and I even ask publishers and publicists to send me electronic copies of books they want me to review. In the long run, that Kindle is probably greener than cutting down forests to satisfy my Kindle habit.
  • The materials are renewable: Sometimes, we feel better about buying things because the materials are renewable. However, even so, consumption is still happening. Do you really need that item? Is it truly bringing enjoyment to your life? Just because it’s a “green” product doesn’t mean that materialism is a good thing.

Think about the ways that you might be justifying your materialism and consumption. Even the fact that complete sustainability seems impossible, especially if you want access to modern technology. So, how do you offset that? And how do you deal with the guilt?

How Do You Offset Guilty Feelings about Your Consumption?

Sometimes, when I look at my lifestyle, and realize that I still consume more resources than I probably should, I feel a little guilty. So, I do take action to offset some of those guilty feelings. Whether or not my actions are truly effective in undoing some of the damage I’m sure I do, I at least feeling like I’m trying.

In the past, I’ve planted trees as part of my efforts. And, when I travel, it is not uncommon for me to purchase carbon offsets to help assuage my guilt. I also contribute to a program that supposedly provides clean energy for my home, guaranteeing that some of the power for my home comes from renewable sources.

Of course, none of these actions can take the place of conscientious decisions to consume less in the first place, and to engage, as much as possible, in sustainable practices. However, it can help to reduce feelings of guilt that come with consumption. On top of that, these actions can help you remember that your actions have consequences, and really help you rethink some of your choices.

What do you think? Do you find ways to justify your consumption and reduce your guilt when you don’t live as sustainably as you could?

15 thoughts on “How Do You Justify Your Consumption?

  1. I definitely do try to justify most of my purchases and even still can’t help sometimes feeling guilty. And not even the whole being green thing, though that does come into play, but the whole fact that I can buy so many different things and have all these creature comforts, yet there are millions of people living without basic necessities everyday.

  2. There’s a reason the first word in “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” is Reduce. Not consuming at all is the best way to avoid using resources. That’s one of the major reasons I’m a minimalist, and every time I make the decision not to buy something, I’m happy I did because I’m consuming less. I still feel very guilty about it sometimes though and but I try to make myself feel better by recognizing that I am doing almost everything I can afford to do, and that’s all anyone can ask.

  3. I justify over consumption all the time by saying I have kids, and it`s just easier. I know i shouldn`t, but I do.

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  5. I don’t really worry about it to much. As someone who is keenly aware of what we use and the recycling that our household does, I can feel good that I’m doing a lot more than the average person.

  6. Agreed. There’s actually no question with regards to spending for basic needs. When it comes to new accessories or gadgets, you must ask yourself and the family if it is really needed.

  7. I think our consumption is pretty low – low enough that I rarely feel guilty about it. And in a few months we’re moving off-grid.

    1. I read Canadian Doomer and enjoy the site, CD. Great role model for shifting priorities to what really matters especially regarding self sufficiency, sustainable living … having LIFE skills. Just my $0.02.

      1. Thanks, SPF. :) Once we go off-grid in April, a lot of what we’ve been preparing for will become reality. I plan to keep blogging, although it’s going to be more difficult accessing the internet.

        Continuing the consumption thread, I found out today that our homestead will not have garbage pickup. We can take our garbage to the landfill – an hour away – something I don’t think will be happening too often.

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