Simple and yet luxurious - is that possible? Discover ways to forego or reduce consumption without having to restrict yourself
Author: House of Eden
Refraining from consumption. Sounds strange - after all, we live in a consumer society. Consumption is a central part of our economy, seen as a reward, luxury or even a carrier of happiness. That makes it desirable, motivates it and lets material things become an expression of status and identity.
However, is precisely this circumstance compatible with a modern, future-oriented worldview and how can one live out consumer renunciation in a positive way?
What exactly is cutting consumption?
Refraining from consumption describes the renunciation of excessive consumption. Nowadays, it would not be realistic to give up consumption entirely. Avoiding impulse shopping, following any trends or buying out of boredom can however be implemented with ease. The point is to consume when it feels necessary and meaningful. If the word renunciation sounds too radical or even misleading in case of doubt, one can also speak of consumption reduction.
Refraining from consumption as an expression of the modern understanding of luxury
Sustainability and individualization are trend-setting keywords in the current zeitgeist. According to the 18th edition of the Bain & Company Luxury Study, 80% of those who were questioned attach importance to luxury brands acting sustainably and ethically. It's about quality instead of quantity, exclusivity instead of mainstream and timelessness instead of the throw-away mentality.
Or in short: a modern understanding of luxury. An understanding of luxury that is no longer defined by material abundance and thus consumption, but by mindfulness, longevity and high quality. Apart from the consumption-oriented dimension, it is also about health, well-being and experiences.
Why do we consume at all - reward, frustration, identity
Thanks to advertising, media and social media, the latest trends are always visible and their implementation is a matter of course. Also, they are available online and offline. Consumption from the sofa or in the boutique - Your Choice. Consuming is simply tempting, fun and enjoyable.
In addition, a new possession can supposedly satisfy needs. In moments of frustration, a designer piece functions as a consolation, in successful moments as a reward. And on a social level, too, consumption seems to be a promising opportunity to fulfill wishes.
Group identities are often defined through fashion, which is why its consumption acts like a ticket to exclusive circles. Also, sometimes it's just about impressing someone. Consumption can enable a desirable lifestyle - this is conveyed by the media and our reality every day. The motto: I need something to be something.
Belonging, group identity, reward or the mere availability of seemingly endless goods - all of these motivate consumption, but are not permanent. A purchase only stimulates the reward Center immediately after the purchase. The feelings of happiness evaporate quickly. And trends are also transient and overtake each other.
Ergo: A cycle of consumption that motivates the next consumption via the intermediate step of a temporary high - virtually legitimized by the connection to increased well-being.
Reasons for not consuming
While the consumption high is short-lived, the effects of consumption are continuous. Namely, on several dimensions: the social, the economic and the ecological. In summary, this means the following reasons for reducing consumption:
- More time to maintain relationships
- More time for interests and hobbies
- Independence from material constraints and trends
- Individuality and self-determination
- Mindfulness and well-being
- Appreciation of the essential
- More thrift
- Conscious, high-quality purchase decisions
- Promotion of sustainability
- Active environmental protection in everyday life
1. The social dimension
From a social point of view, the time invested in consuming can be used effectively to cultivate relationships and enjoy free time. If we save ourselves the obligatory glimpse into our favorite online shop or a shopping trip to the city center, we suddenly have a lot more time for our fellow human beings, our own interests or new hobbies. Contrary to the short-lived nature of consumer happiness, we experience a sensitization for the small, beautiful things of everyday life.
In addition, abstaining from consumption promotes self-determination. Those who do not follow or consume every trend in order to create a certain affiliation or persona, will quickly discover their individual taste. Another plus point is that a self-determined lifestyle has been proven to increase well-being.
2. The economic dimension
It is clear: those who consume less also have less expenses. In the long term, you can save money in order to actually treat yourself to a high quality, timeless and beautiful piece from time to time.
3. The ecological dimension
Not consuming is good for the environment. Every product that is bought has to be manufactured, packaged, transported and disposed of again at some point. In fact, with a significant impact on nature. CO2 emissions, toxic chemicals and wasted water and energy are just some of the numerous negative environmental impacts that damage nature and drive climate change. Anyone who consciously refrains from consumption can avoid this and thus position themselves as an advocate of sustainability.
Copyright by Tim Mitchell
A study proves: Less is More
The consumer study "The Key To Confidence", which was carried out by OEK-TEX together with the American market research company Anerca International, shows that it pays to refrain from consuming. According to the study, millennials and young parents in particular are willing to consume less and value high-quality products. Consumption of clothing was clearly identified as a productive way to do something against climate change.
According to the study, the less-is-more mentality is an additional driver of the willingness to refrain from consuming. Due to the excess of available goods, the demand for an exclusive selection of personal possessions grows. Here, possessions not only have to be functional or aesthetic, but also correspond to personal values.
This development shows that minimalism is much more than just an interior trend, but a true lifestyle. The benefits of minimalism - the reduction to the essentials, order and structure as well as appreciation and well-being - can thus be clearly associated with abstaining from consumption as such.
Learning to abstain from consumption: Top 10 tips & tricks
First of all: It is not about completely giving up consumption. That is unrealistic and daunting. Rather, it is about reducing consumption step-by-step. And that can happen for everyone individually - some will find it easier to forego regular shopping, others the reduction in media consumption. The main thing is to start somewhere, because you can learn to abstain from consumption.
- Start in a certain area of life that doesn't seem like too much of a challenge
- Keep order to be aware of your own possessions
- Establish clear rules in order to establish routine in the long term
- Set goals (e.g. no shopping for a month)
- Reward yourself (e.g. no shopping for a month = purchase of a coveted piece)
- Scanning: Before shopping, check what is really needed
- Monitoring: Write a list before shopping so as not to be distracted while shopping
- Make use of sharing & 2nd life concepts
- Take the time to buy fashion, interior, etc. - only what you like for a long time is worth it
- Buy sustainable and high quality
Firstly, it is therefore important to become aware of your own property. With a clear overview and order, it is easy to determine what is really needed. And that applies to fashion, leisure items and food. This overview should be created before a shopping trip to avoid unnecessary purchases.
Also productive: rely on recycling, upcycling and DIY. Seemingly useless or old things from your own home can easily be upgraded or even serve new purposes with the help of creative ideas and a little manual skill.
When it comes to nutrition and media consumption, clear rules and regularity can also help. For example, a nutrition plan and clearly defined "social media times" can serve as a structure to slowly but surely get used to less consumption. Keyword: Detox. In fact, not only in terms of nutrition, but also in terms of media consumption. A digital detox can demonstrably increase well-being.
New values through Lean Luxury
This new mentality manifests itself in the Neo Luxury Study 2025. While health and sustainability will redefine the luxury market in the future, it is particularly innovative business models that promise to overtake current mainstream consumption in our society.
Sharing & 2nd life models as well as an increasing need for customization - individualized production - stand for exclusivity, longer life cycles and less as well as conscious consumption. The principle: if I can borrow things, I don't have to buy the bag in different versions, if I personalize my couch, I will like it for a long time.
The result: Avoidance of frequent, unnecessary consumption. If this renunciation of consumption happens consciously, then we are talking about lean luxury. A model that is also listed as the Luxury Trend 2025. But what exactly is abstinence from consumption in a consumer society?
COVID-19 as a door opener for refraining from consumption in 2020
According to a survey by the market research institute Appinio, the Germans only compensate a small part of their offline purchases online due to the pandemic. Instead, it is waived. Often realized that most purchases are unnecessary. With the exception of essentials such as food or hygiene products, the non-consumption relates in particular to clothing, jewelry, watches and furniture.
Although the respondents stated that after the pandemic they were likely to consume as much as before, the study shows that there is another way of doing things. It should be used as an incentive to practice reduced consumer behavior as the "New Normal" even beyond COVID-19.