Through our interviews from around the globe, we hope to give inspiration from the personal stories of passion for mindful purchasing. We hope you are enjoying this journey of real-life examples of agents of change.
In our interview with Savannah, Mind Body Spirit Coach and Blogger at EarthandWater.co, she shares how and why she's integrated contentious consumer choices into her and her family's life and how you can too.
How did you find out about Fair Trade?I found out about Fair Trade through the Ethical Hour Twitter chat. I already knew about eco-friendly type living, of course, but at the time didn’t really know much about its branches; Fair Trade, zero waste, veganism, etc. This particular Twitter chat focuses on Fair Trade as the topic of the chat once a month, and I didn’t know what it meant, so I googled it and then it just grew from there.
What motivated you to make changes in your purchasing?
It was a gradual thing that began when I became pregnant with my son. I decided to do cloth diapers instead of disposable, switched to cloth napkins instead of paper towels, opted for a reusable coffee filter. Little things here and there that I loved because they were eco-friendly but were mostly no-brainers because they saved us so much money.When he was born I entered some sort of sweepstakes where I was required to make a promise to my child. My promise was to do everything in my power to make this world better for him. I really took that promise to heart and that’s when and how my blog/business began as well. So I guess my main motivators were money and my desire to do what I could to make the world a better place for my children.
What exactly do you do to purchase Fair Trade or consciously?
I do a lot of different things. I try to live a minimalist lifestyle which means I’ll think about something for at least a couple of months before I purchase it. I’ll shop around, I love to second-hand shop. Most of what I own came from yard sales. I get all of my children’s clothes from a local consignment shop and take them back up there when they’ve outgrown them.
I try to maintain a clean, organic, plant-based ayurvedic diet which means I buy a lot of my staples from the local health food store in bulk. This allows me to minimize packaging and enjoy a mostly zero-waste kitchen. I also try my hand at gardening every year and I’m getting better at it each season. I try to grow and make what I can myself.
The whole thing is a mindset to maintain and then the lifestyle comes naturally afterward. Practicing mindfulness in every aspect of your life is where you start and then the rest just falls into place.
"The whole thing is a mindset to maintain and then the lifestyle comes naturally afterward."
What has been the easiest and hardest parts?I’m not sure there are any easy parts [laughs]. Unfortunately, this lifestyle isn’t the norm in our society yet. It is a growing trend that I believe is here to stay but until it becomes more mainstream, it’s going to be a little more difficult than just flowing with consumerism. I can name tons of things that are hard about it. My family fights me every step of the way, a lot of the time they don’t even realize it. It’s hard to find certain things you need sometimes, especially without spending a pretty penny. Your local grocery stores aren’t very easy to navigate if you’re trying to keep things plastic free, ethical, toxin-free, etc. It can be a very stressful lifestyle to pursue but it’s also incredibly fulfilling and rewarding.
What factors do you look into or research when purchasing?
Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to find a product that checks every single ideal box. You’re almost always going to have to compromise in some way. I mostly pay attention to toxicity, opting for organic whenever possible, because you have to take care of yourself first.
Then I’ll look at the zero waste/plastic free aspect of the thing in order to minimize my impact on landfills. Then I look at the sustainability rating of it, choosing bamboo over cotton or polyester.
I always always always try to find something I need or want second hand first. I use to try and check all of the boxes but until the world catches up, we often have to decide what our own personal battles are so that we don’t stress ourselves into sickness.
Does buying Fair Trade and consciously shopping cost you a lot more?
No. It does seem that way on the surface to many people because, let’s face it, in comparison to your unethical products, ethical ones are often much pricier than the commercial ones. But, since it’s not just a lifestyle but also a mindset, you’re saving a lot of money also. More mindful shopping means you’re buying less sporadically which saves you money. Plus, second-hand stuff is always priced way below new.
When a shirt at your local department store costs $5, you buy five of them, spending $25 and then they often wear out in a matter of months and you end up buying more. They also provide you with clutter in your closet, which adds to the clutter in our minds as well! In comparison, when you buy one $25 ethically made shirt, it often lasts you a year or more, and it has more of an impact on your personal wellbeing. You thought about the purchase more which means you like it more and you feel more confident and secure in and about it. The impact it has on your self-esteem is in and of itself, priceless.
On the food end of things, when you’re eating a cleaner, more basic diet, you’ll spend $20 on your staples of quinoa, beans, rice and oatmeal which will last you a month, even if you’re cooking 3 meals a day. If you’re eating/buying your fruits and veggies local and seasonal, they’re priced better as well. Seasonings last you a year and when your health depends on your diet, it makes it all extra worth it. They say you can pay the farmer now or the doctor later, and the doctor’s cost a lot more. It’s a learning curve just like anything else, but know you can find a way to eat healthily within your budget if you believe you can. I actually wrote a blog on how to eat organically without breaking the bank, showing that it can be done!
What advice would you give to purchase more consciously?
Don’t stress over it. That was always my biggest issue. The fact that you care at all means you’re doing enough. You don’t have to pick up everyone else’s slack and you don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You are enough. Every little bit counts.
"The fact that you care at all means you’re doing enough.... You are enough. Every little bit counts."
Do you find the switch in good and products have improved the quality of the items?Definitely. Not only in the items but in me and my life as well. I’m healthier, happier, more confident, freer and so many things in between. Buying things that have good intentions, good vibrations and good karma attached to them brings all of those good things with them when they come into your life.
How do you feel your purchases make a difference?Every little bit helps. Every good decision you make inspires someone around you to make their own good decision. We influence everyone we interact with every day and in this way, we create ripples out into the world. With every positive choice, we make we send out positive ripples and this is how we change the world. One small act of kindness at a time.
What are your favorite conscious consumerism and ethical living quotes?I have many catchphrases that I quote on a daily basis to my friends, family, and audience:
Savannah Shea Blake is a Mind body spirit coach and blogger at EarthandWater.co. Focused on the person as a whole, she helps people better themselves and their lives. She believes that by improving ourselves, we improve the entire world through the ripples of our actions. She’s a spiritual warrior on a mission to make the world a better place by leading by example and inspiring others to do the same.
Unique World Inspirations is a conscious consumer education platform and social enterprise online shop providing Fair Trade gifts from 31 artisan groups around the world. Through our mission to share how We Are One, we hope to inspire you on your conscious ethical consumer voyage!
What are you doing to add contentious shopping choices in your life?
Please comment below.