ramblings

conscious consuming

Where and how do you shop? It is a question we get asked often. The reason people want to know is because for several years now we have made the choice to eat healthier and shop more ethically. For us, this has meant avoiding big box stores like Walmart and Target and learning how to shop with a new strategy. These days we give a lot more thought to where and what we buy.

We had gone years without Walmart when I stopped eating meat cold turkey (pun intended). We embarked on switching to a plant-based diet full of organic and naturally grown vegetables, while removing as many processed foods as possible from our diet. We aren’t just sticklers for what we put in our body, we have taken to making our own cleaning and toiletry products that are healthier for us and good for the environment.

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There’s no denying the convenience of big box store staples, and we understand how it may seem like shopping anywhere else could take time and money away from you. We are all living fast pace lives trying to spend more time living and less money shopping. Even though we shop differently, we don’t spend a lot of time doing it.

As much as it would put our granola hearts into overdrive to be completely self sufficient, we still run shopping errands like most of you. We plan our meals and make one big trip every two to three weeks. Anything in between is to grab small things that we might run out of.

Our basic guideline is trusting the quality of what we are buying, shopping smart to keep the jingle in our pocket, and supporting companies we believe in. Here is how we make shopping for the everyday basics happen without hitting the big box store or breaking the bank.

Trusting The Quality

If you are able, learn how to make it or grow it yourself. If you can’t or don’t make it yourself, then buy from those who put quality into their product. From food ingredients to clothing, get in the habit of reading labels and learning about what goes into making that item.  It’s not always fun, but this simple shift will have you thinking twice and seeking the quality in a product that you and your family deserve.

We definitely put an emphasis on quality food. The number one way we ensure the quality of our food is by growing it ourselves. Not only does this mean growing organically, but it’s also about buying seeds from companies such as Annie’s Heirloom Seed, Sow True Seed, and Baker Creek. Supporting these companies we know we are getting an pure organic seed of the highest quality. The harvest from our garden far exceeds the taste of anything bought in a store.

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Farmers markets are the next best thing to growing it yourself. You can find locally grown organic or naturally grown food straight from the source. They offer a chance interact with the individuals growing your food and even pick up new recipes from friendly vendors. Atlanta makes this easy on us by having a number of farmers markets all over the city open on various days throughout the week. It doesn’t hurt that one of our favorite farmers markets is held in our neighborhood.

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Check out your local grocery stores and co-ops. Your Dekalb Farmers Market is a store near us that sells foods from all over the world. This is where we get the bulk of our spices, rice, dried beans, flour, sugar, and some produce. More than 90% of what we buy here is organic and far cheaper than what we find in grocery stores. The Dekalb Farmers Market is so vast and unique that we are always trying to take our out of town guests. It’s a bonafide tourist stop I tell you.

Shopping Smart

Seek out opportunities to save money and time. We save a tremendous amount by growing and making what we can. What we can’t, we always compare prices between the stores we support. Beyond shopping around, we try to buy quality products that work better and last longer. This saves even more money. Look around your community and pick the markets and local vendors that are working hard to put out quality product that fit your budget.

Besides our Dekalb Farmers Market gem, we are devoted shoppers of Trader Joe’s. The prices are very reasonable with a nice inventory of healthy and organic foods. Since we generally get the same items most of the time, the trip is quick and painless. Groceries aren’t the only thing that we buy here. It’s also a great spot to pick up toilet paper, paper towels, natural cleaning products, and toiletries.

Publix is the only other grocery store we frequent. This is where we buy baking soda, baking soda wash, vinegar, and apple cider vinegar. It’s another simple stop.

Company Support

Be a detective. Learn about the company that you are giving your money. Always remember you have options. Spread your dollar and your support. Seek out companies that value the quality of their product and give consideration to the impact of their products on the environment and world. 

It may seem crazy and radical to some, but we take showing support seriously. This means boycotting some while being devoted shoppers to others. Quality might cost a little more, but you always overpay for bad quality.

Company support ties in with the quality of what we buy. As a consumer, trust is important, and frankly, we don’t feel like we can trust a lot of what’s being sold out there. Where you put your dollar is where you put your vote. When buying the same items repeatedly and frequenting the same stores, you are supporting the actions these companies take, good or bad. Ryan and I are nowhere near perfect with this. Our strictness ebbs and flows, but we are always trying to improve.

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First and foremost, we support companies that stand behind their products. One of the first things that attracted us to Trader Joes and even Aldi is that both companies allow returns. If you try something out and just hate it, then return it. REI , Patagonia, Timberland, and many other outdoor brands have amazing return policies. You might be surprised by how many brands stand 100% behind their products and make things easy on their customers if and when their product fails. A new company we want to try out is Darn Tough Socks with their lifetime guarantee. Socks that last forever, now that’s money well spent.

Our willpower to become conscious consumers came from knowledge. Knowledge is power as they say. I’m not sure how powerful we feel, but we are happier than ever with our clean conscious shopping and overall improvement of life.

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You are more powerful than you think. What challenges are you willing to take on? Do you avoid big box shopping? What are some conscious consuming tips you have to share?

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