What Is A ‘Conscious’ Lifestyle And How Can You Participate?

By Isabelle Earl

Illustrations by Rebecca Baruc

Mindfulness is an imperative characteristic to possess. Whether it pertains to how we interact, think, or consume, being aware and informed is pertinent. A conscious lifestyle can have one of two meanings. First, environmentally conscious behaviors are on the rise as we continue to see the state of our planet compromised and put under extreme stress. As a result, humans across the globe are producing products that are eco-friendly, along with practicing actions that work to help Mother Nature survive. Secondly, living a life with meaning and purpose is referred to as true conscious living. With the busy, hectic nature that exists in everyday life, taking a step back to internalize can be crucial and, quite frankly, refreshing. In understanding the differences between these two concepts, we also inhale the opportunity for prosperity each could provide in our everyday lives.

Since moving to Chicago and being forced to abide by the “seven-cents-per-bag” ordinance, I have begun carrying around reusable bags. While this life-change was somewhat forced, what I have learned since beginning this journey has been entirely voluntary. The eye-opening and mind-boggling facts about single-use plastic terrify me, and the idea that we are killing the world with our everyday actions has motivated me to become more conscious of my actions as a consumer. What started out as a simple reusable bag has turned into vegan hair and beauty products, eco-friendly laundry detergents, recycled clothing items, and discovering brands that support and stand for similar environmental standards.

Conscious fashion is a term used to describe clothing lines that are dedicated to being wholly environmentally friendly. These brands allow for individuals concerned with the state of our climate crisis to still enjoy the luxury of shopping. While an original stance of the conscious lifestyle may have been minimalism, conscious fashion brands such as Pact, People Tree, Tentree, and Threads 4 Thought have provided an alternative: energy-saving eclectic styles. My mother has made the conscious choice of participating in a more eco-friendly lifestyle. She has recently been introduced to the laundry and cleaning brand Seventh Generation. While this is not the only brand available in this market, it can be confirmed (by first hand use) that it cooperates well with sensitive skin and allergy-prone individuals.

Eco-aware or mindful fashion is not specific to novel, state-of-the-art clothing. Conscious fashion could simply be second-hand or thrifted items. This is arguably more helpful to the environment rather than buying new styles. Additionally, thrifting has provided me with the comfiest of sweaters and the softest of flannels that I own. A little clothing with character is a girl’s best friend. In Chicago alone, if one Googles, “second hand shops chicago” you will find thousands and thousands of results. It’s easy, affordable, and entirely accessible.

As exhilarating as saving the Earth can be, the second form of conscious living is a personality and mental-health orientated goal, which nonetheless should be attempted and understood with equal magnitude. Whether you see him as a cliché or a classic, Ferris Buehler had it right. He projected, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” The mundane 9-to-5, eat, sleep, then “up and at ‘em!” again the next day mentality is dehumanizing, regarding people as machines rather than people. If we truly want to strive for a society that prioritizes happiness, we must stop praising this practice.

In order to live a more conscious life, we should first place our happiness in front of all external factors. Choose to do what makes you happy. Then never stop. Being honest with yourself and others is an imperative to the conscious lifestyle. Live your truth. Never stop. A final step that I have recently taken up in this new year goes something like this: live unapologetically. Of course if you bump into someone on the “L,” please apologize. But never apologize for your feelings, your passions, or for your decisions to put yourself first.

Be mindful. Be aware. Be conscious that life is flying by, and then enjoy it. Take time for yourself. Most importantly, choose happiness.