Mindless overconsumption baffles me, being one of the provoking factors that drives me on a path towards a minimalist lifestyle. I don’t necessarily propose the drastic measure of eliminating every trace of overconsumption in our lives, and that of sustaining the highest form of discipline necessary to minimize the human footprint on this planet.
My paradigm is simple: reduce consumption where it doesn’t contribute in any way to your basic happiness, goals, and necessities. Be mindful of the limited resources that surround us, and think. Disregard any malignant behavior among your peers, family, and society, and act on your convictions. And don’t preoccupy with the prospect of isolating yourself. The people who are important to you, and to whom you are important, are not bound to disappear from your life. Now for some examples:
Don’t drink from disposable containers when you have other options.
Not only are paper and plastic containers unpleasant in their nature if you are mindful with your beverage experience, but they also contribute to enormous waste. Sure, carry a coffee in a paper cup on the street if you must, or accept one on the plane. However, ask for a mug in cafes and restaurants, and always use one indoors. The same rule-of-thumb applies to disposable plates and utensils.
Reject the extras you don’t need, even if they are free.
Always ask yourself if you really need something, or if you really even want it. Be it unsolicited food or beverage on an airplane, at work, or at an event, a free pen at a workshop, a free subscription to a publication of little value to your life, reject the harvesting mentality. Be mindful when you really desire something, or you only believe you do because you find it handed to you with insolence and disregard to your health or human/natural resources. Marketing is a powerful agent. Purchasing in greater quantities to save per ounce is provocative, but also wasteful if you have no need for the extra volume. Remember, you are in charge of your needs.
Pleasure diminishes with quantity.
I find that in respect with the 80-20 rule, you experience the majority of pleasure in the initial smallest percentage of quantity consumed. Examples: coffee, desert (sweets), spirited beverages. Concentrate and savor those initial moments of bliss, and be mindful of the disparity between raw pleasure and addiction.