The current issue of Planet Mindful magazine opens with my article about escalating consumption in the so-called ‘wellness marketplace’.
(The type is rather small, so you’ll need to zoom in to read. If you prefer to read an IRL copy of the magazine, it’s on shelves now in WHSmith, major supermarkets, and even Barnes & Noble in the US.)
From $15,000 yoga mats (yes, really) to electronic meditation pebbles to dubious ‘earthing’ technologies: there have never been so many ways to get ripped off while looking for inner peace. I look at how things went wrong, and consider how to be a more mindful consumer.
I’m not out to take away anyone’s enjoyment of their high-end yoga mat or crystal doodads. Precious talismans, carefully chosen and cherished, will always have their place. But investing in such objects should be a symbol of our intentions, not the whole of the effort. As I write in the piece, “Spending money on our wellbeing is not the problem. But buying into a system where spending = soothing, where acquiring stuff has become a proxy for the real work of self-care: it’s not healthy.”
Not healthy for us, and not healthy for the planet. In particular, wellness products which are derived from nature – I’m thinking about all those rose quartz crystals and essential oils – have a false halo effect: we feel as though they must be essentially benign by virtue of being ‘natural’, and we forget to ask whether they got to us by ethical and sustainable routes. The fantasy of ‘nature’s bounty’ obscures the reality of underpaid, marginalised human beings at the sharp end of the supply chain. And even after we accept that ‘organic’ doesn’t imply ‘sustainable’ and ‘naturally-sourced’ is not equal to ‘ethically sourced’, it can be hard to know which sources of information to trust. There wasn’t room to go into it in this Planet Mindful commission, and the topic deserves its own article – rest assured, I’m working on it.