Inside the minds of mindful consumers

People do their shopping in a supermarket. Are you a mindful consumer?

Donating money is one way to spend money thoughtfully, but there are lots of other ways to show financial support for causes you believe in -- everything from buying organic foods to investing in social responsible companies. We asked Marketplace listeners about their own "mindful consumption" and got a ton of responses about putting your money where your morals are.

On Facebook, Chris wrote to say : "I honestly am very mindful to spend the least amount for the product sufficient for my needs." Carlos wrote: "I became a vegetarian 4 years ago. Good for health, good for animals, good for the planet." Read other responses in the slideshow below.

We've asked two of our other Facebook friends to join the program and talk about their approaches to mindful consumption. Leslie lives in Bergen County, N.J. and Kelly is from Valley Grove, W.V.

"For me [mindful consumption] is about having an awareness of everything that's involved along the chain of manufacturing any given product and knowing the origins and where it started, thinking backwards to where it all began," says Leslie.

"Packaging is an important part of the piece, also transportation, so buying as locally as possible," adds Kelly.

Mindful consumption can be difficult, though, on the pocketbook. Whether it's buying organic or locally, it's not always cheap to be a mindful consumer. That's something that Leslie struggles with.

"It's complicated. Honestly, I'm sporadic. I do organic sometimes and then other times I'm feeling ugh, go for what I feel works in my pocketbook," says Leslie. "You do make choices based on convenience."

As a stay-at-home mother of three small children, Kelly says costs are absolutely an issue for her as well. She often goes back and forth when making decisions about what to buy her kids, such as purchasing new, sweatshop-free clothing or buying used clothes. She says her local community plays an important role in how she spends her money.

"We actually lived in northern New Jersey for a number of years and moved back to West Virginia for very specific reasons. It has not been an easy transition all the time. There are a lot of things that we left behind, including access to maybe more products that were in line with our way of thinking," says Kelly. "But [now] we live in a small town. We're able to connect with other people in our community. We're able to exchange goods and services."

Kelly says her family moved because of the cost-benefits of a lower cost of living -- a decision she considers an example of mindful consumption.

One topic that came up on our Facebook page a lot is that mindful consumption can sometimes take the form of not buying. That's something Leslie can relate to.

"There's nothing more satisfying than not going out to lunch at my office and having packed [food], like I think of that all the time for sure food-wise, but also clothing wise," says Leslie. "I'm cognizant of what I can reduce and what I can reuse and recycle. And not just recycling in the way of recycling plastic or glass. It's recycling clothing. It's recycling books. It's about money and it's about sharing and it is about community."

Leslie and Kelly contacted us via Facebook. And you can, too, if you want to weigh in on the conversation about mindful consumption -- click here.

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

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