Promotional marketing strategies that are based on discounts, offers and sales by leveraging our need for immediate gratification represent that promise of very short-term happiness that we reach thanks to the purchase of a product while saving money. It's not a crime, we all do it.
This psychological mechanism, which often tends to fill empty spaces in our lives with material goods, leads to a growing demand for corporate production and therefore an increase in mass consumption in a self-perpetuating vicious circle.
The point is that when a cycle of consumption becomes excessive, it has significant consequences on an individual, social and, unfortunately, also on an environmental level.
The impact that excessive consumption has on the individual concerns his private sphere (stress due to too much spending and a sense of overwhelm due to the accumulation of too many goods) and his psychological health (anxiety, depression and dissatisfaction).
From a social point of view, mass consumption leads to an increase in economic inequality and gender discrimination among people, as well as the deterioration of working conditions up to the exploitation of workers in some areas of the world.
Last but not least, there is the negative impact that the environment suffers from an unbridled consumption model in terms of pollution (above all of the soil and water), depletion of natural resources (energy and raw materials) and in terms of climate change (increased greenhouse gas emissions).
What is Slow Consumption
"Slow Consumption" is a concept based on the idea of slowing down our speed of consumption by limiting mass purchases of goods and basing our purchasing choices on different parameters such as the quality and duration of a product over time.
Unlike "fast" and impulsive consumption, where people buy many products without considering their real need and the impact of the purchases they make, the model that inspires slow consumption invites them to reduce the amount of things they buy considering the real need they have of that good.
Slow consumption also encourages the purchase of second-hand goods (thus avoiding the creation of new goods), handicraft production and the purchase of 0 km products that support the local economy.
Therefore, by adopting such a consumption model, we are committed to reducing waste, choosing sustainable products and respecting the environment.
The concept of slow consumption goes beyond the mere purchase of products, but also encourages people to take time to appreciate what they already have and to rediscover the value and awareness of things in everyday life.
Difference between Slow Consumption and Conscious Consumption
Slow consumption and conscious consumption are related concepts, but cannot properly be considered synonyms. Both are aimed at reducing the environmental and social impacts deriving from excessive consumption.
Slow consumption focuses on slowing down the speed of purchases and reducing their number, encouraging the purchase only of necessary or much desired goods, evaluating from time to time the intrinsic parameters of the good itself such as quality, materials and duration over time.
Conscious consumption, on the other hand, focuses on the effects and sustainability of purchasing choices, encouraging those choices that lead to a reduction in environmental impact. Informed choices therefore that indicate a greater awareness of the impact of one's purchases on the environment and that reward products and companies whose production cycles are carried out with a view to environmental sustainability.
The benefits of Slow Consumption
The benefits deriving from a slowdown in our consumption rhythms are manifold and on a vast scale.
First of all, we can make savings in economic terms as we buy less and better, focusing on quality goods that last a long time and not on many low-cost products that need to be replaced often.
Furthermore, by opting for the purchase of what we really want, we improve our quality of life because, by increasing our sense of gratitude and satisfaction, we are not constantly looking for something new.
As regards the benefits brought to the environment, undoubtedly as the speed with which we consume slows down, the quantity of goods produced also slows down. There is therefore a consequent reduction in the environmental impact due to industrial production.
Furthermore, by purchasing fewer mass goods and preferring companies that use sustainable production practices, as a result of the domino effect, companies are incentivized to increase the quality of their products and the sustainability of their production processes.
Practical examples of Slow Consumption in daily life
How can we practice slow consumption? Let's start with small steps in our daily life.
Whenever we are about to buy a new product, we first ask ourselves the following questions:
- Do I really need this product or do I really crave it?
- What economic impact would the purchase of this product have for me? Would this be sustainable or would it cause me anxiety about my financial situation?
- Is there a more sustainable alternative to this product such as second hand or refurbished items?
- Is the product I'm about to buy of high quality or is it made of inferior materials?
- How long can this product last?
- If it gets damaged, will this product be repairable?
More generally, to get closer to the slow consumption perspective:
We buy less.
For example, we buy less clothes (especially fast fashion, i.e. poor quality), we learn to take care of the ones we have by washing them correctly to make them live longer. Or, another example is furniture; let's try to consider buying them used or modifying and recovering the ones we already have. Another example is detergents for cleaning the house; instead of chemical detergents we use natural alternatives such as vinegar and baking soda, or we opt for the purchase of detergents on tap without packaging.
When we buy, we focus on product quality, favoring companies that use ethical and sustainable production practices.
We buy used or reconditioned products (such as clothing, books, electronics, etc...) which not only save money, but also often have a unique value. Furthermore, they are a source of waste reduction as they fall within the concept of circular economy which aims to lengthen the life of individual goods by discouraging the production of new ones.
We repair if possible what we have when it gets damaged.
Let's learn to shop more consciously so as to avoid food waste: let's not buy too many foods that expire soon at once, let's learn to store food correctly so we don't have to throw it in the trash.