How To Become An Astute Consumer

In this day and age, with the constant barrage of clever ads at every keystroke, people need to be smarter about what they buy, when, and why. There are a number of reasons for this. To start with, the pandemic, inflation and the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia have dug a deep hole in consumers’ wallets. The price of essential goods such as food, fuel, and utilities has skyrocketed in a short span of time, making day-to-day living a chore for many. Another very important reason is that consumers need to be part of the solution when it comes to waste management and sustainability issues.

For some time now, before entering any website I turn off all of the personalized ads and content cookies. The reason I am doing this is not so much for privacy, but for peace of mind. As a writer, I do a lot of research online, for blog articles, and product reviews, so you can probably imagine what my screen looks like when I go online. The sheer number of ads that populate my screen are more than a distraction, they are annoying.

Another reason I do this is that I don’t need to be teased, coerced, and prompted into purchasing anything at all. It’s ironic, seeing I am a copywriter and my job is to write content that titillates and engages consumers to either buy or subscribe so they can then receive ongoing emails written to persuade even the most difficult and discerning consumers to spend money. Perhaps it is precisely because I work as a copywriter that I have developed this intolerance for the subtle and conniving methods used to hook people online.

Advertising is nothing new, it wasn’t so long ago, that we couldn’t sit through a movie without the repeated commercial interruptions, which were usually a prompt to get a snack, a drink, or make a washroom run.

In the last 15 years, advertising and consumer habits have changed drastically. According to data, there are over 2.5 billion people shopping online.

Online Shopping

It was not so long ago that people used to shop locally. These days if you are a shop owner in a city or town wishing to attract more local customers you need to jump through hoops to stay in business. You’ll need a website and perhaps a few landing pages to direct customers to specific goods or services, you’ll need product reviews, testimonials, and a blog with articles that show new prospects that you are an expert in your field or that your products are superior, a better deal and so on. Then you will need to develop ad copy for social media and email marketing content to keep loyal customers and increase conversions. Wow, that is a lot of work and it comes at a cost. There was a time when all a shop owner needed to do was open the shop. Customers were acquired through word of mouth or simply because the service or product spoke for itself.

As much as shopping online has opened us up to a big wild world of endless consumer goods it has also opened up a deep dark vortex where people get sucked into a scrolling stupor. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate and have enjoyed the convenience of online shopping as much as anyone else, especially during the pandemic lockdowns. But there is a downside to all of this. Let’s take for example the online fast fashion and high-tech industry that have grown in leaps and bounds over the last 15 years.

Fast Fashion Madness

The average consumer purchases 60% more clothing now than 15 years ago, however, these lower quality items being purchased last half as long. Cheap synthetic fabrics and badly sewn together garments create a vicious cycle that may be advantageous for fast fashion brands, just not as beneficial for the consumer and the environment.

For the last two decades, and thanks to e-commerce, fast fashion picked up speed, widened its reach, and increased production. Fast fashion brands such as Zara, H&M, and GAP, amongst others, released anywhere from 600 to 900 new garment styles a week.

Renewing our wardrobe, every season, by buying clothes that fall apart after a few washes might have been justifiable, in some warped sense, by low costs and consumers’ insatiable desire for variety, but that is no longer a viable option. The reliance of fast fashion on fossil fuels is nothing new to us and it’s undeniably the backbone of the fast fashion business model due to their reliance on synthetic fabrics.

While the responsibility to break the fast fashion model lies with the major stakeholders and policymakers, we as consumers have an important role as well. We must put an end to compulsive shopping and buy only what we really need when we need it. Consumers must contribute to achieving a more sustainable future, by buying less and developing an appreciation for quality. With quality comes durability. As consumers, the time has come to choose quality over quantity.

Learn to recognize quality so you can make smart purchases, and before buying any new item ask yourself, if you really need it, how often will you use it, and if it’s clothing ask yourself whether you will wear it at least 30 times. Unless the answer is yes, don’t purchase it.

Big Tech And The E-waste Dilemna

Another striking industry is technology. Depletion of technology metals is contributing to ecological, economic, and social deficits, with far-reaching global consequences. 

These metals are the dominant materials found in e-waste, representing approximately 60% of the total waste, comprising a multitude of items, such as household appliances, IT equipment, monitors, tools, medical devices, and much more. Data indicates that 82% of e-waste generated globally is not being recycled. 

The United Nations University estimates that an alarming 45 million tonnes of computers, televisions, mobile phones, and other electronic goods are thrown away every year. An average cell phone user replaces their unit once every 18 months. This doesn’t factor in the amount of peripheral computer equipment that is also thrown into dumps around the world, most of which end up in landfills. 

The UN University and International Telecommunication Union have estimated that the raw materials in e-waste are worth $62.5 billion annually. That exceeds the GDP of 123 countries.

I still have an iPhone 8 which I purchased used. It works perfectly well for all I need and sure I would love to have the cutting-edge camera that the new iPhone models have, but hey I own several SLR digital cameras, so I asked myself whether I really needed the new iPhone for the camera and the answer was a definite no.

Consumers Claiming Back Their Right To Repair

The laptop I’m using to write this has already started showing signs of extreme fatigue. Even with the battery charged at 100%, it turns itself off abruptly, if not powered by AC. It’s five years old and according to today’s standards, should have already been replaced. 

Electronic components have their own life, and it’s normal for some of these to need replacing in time. The problem is that in many instances, laptops, for instance, are glued, or parts are soldered together, so that if one part breaks you’ll need to replace the entire unit. This is particularly frustrating and problematic when batteries need to be serviced or replaced. It is a waste, to say the least.

It should be possible to take PCs and mobile devices apart, and for consumers to replace vital components when needed. Big Tech companies should offer spare parts for several years even once the model has been discontinued. 

There are many things that can be done to produce sustainable IT products. Standardizing cables for IT products would mean fewer cables to be manufactured and this would allow their re-use on multiple products by consumers. Companies need to start designing products that are durable, upgradeable, repairable, and reusable, whether these are computers or home appliances.

Creating a circular economy is part and parcel of the overall solution. In order for businesses to achieve a circular economy, they need to redefine growth and invest in business practices that benefit society as a whole.  

Big Tech companies need to own up to their responsibilities and become active stakeholders in implementing a circular economy with designs that take into account not only the use of an object but its lifespan and recycling as well. 

In the USA the ‘right to repair’ bill was introduced and has already gained traction thanks to backing from President Biden and Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak

In December 2021, Dell announced its plans for Concept Luna, a sustainable and repairable laptop. News has it that  Microsoft is looking into Xbox and Surface devices right to repair.  All Big Tech companies should jump on board because it won’t take long for consumers to realize and appreciate the benefits. 

Checklist to become a more astute consumer and get real value for your money

  • Choose quality over quantity
  • Buy products that have long life span
  • Buy only what you need.
  • Consume less, and you will waste less

There’s something to be said for frugality these days. Impulse control is what you need if you want to be unaffected by all the eye-candy online and not fall prey to sales pitches and compulsions. From a more philosophical point of view, we could say that supporting local businesses and buying and wasting less puts us on the path to living a sustainable lifestyle and contributing to the future wellbeing of the planet and humanity.

Confessions Of A Serial Boot Collector

When I was nine years old, in Montreal, I used to take a shortcut through a field to get to school. One winter day, crossing the frozen field, I crashed through the ice. Luckily for me, it was not deep. It was scary and freezing. I managed not to lose my boots which were weighed down with icy water. I walked in those wet soggy boots for the rest of that winter, they never dried up. I told no one, especially not my mother, for she was a very strict and incredibly thrifty woman, perhaps not by choice. Those boots were meant to be worn until I grew out of them. Raising three children on one measly salary, was a feat, requiring sacrifices and creative solutions.

My mother sewed all of our clothes. In order to save, she would get one pattern and enough fabric to sew 3 identical dresses for my sisters and me. That was in the 60s when Montreal was a fashion city and the city’s garment industry was still vibrant. Every day, on my way to school, I was awestruck by the colorful and audacious patterned fabrics, low-cut jeans, and platform shoes. Daring new designs such as collarless shirts and jackets, miniskirts, and fringes, never seen before. Everything was changing so fast. I couldn’t wait to work, earn my own money and buy my own clothes.

Funny how things work out though. In the early 70s, I left my family home, without their consent and moved across the country, to Vancouver. Life was tough on my own, working and studying, without any parental support. Not only could I not afford to buy trendy new clothes, but unlike Montreal, Vancouver was not a fashion city and the pickings were slim, to say the least. That’s when I started buying clothes in second-hand shops and vintage shops.

I would alter these, to fit me, or change the pattern altogether. I can’t even count how many zippers I sewed into sleeves and pant legs, during my punk years. At times I only bought a dress for its fabric, which I would sew into a unique top, dress, or jacket. I had fallen in sync with a whole generation of young people who were actively rejecting consumerism and the use of synthetic fabrics, whether by choice or circumstances. What happened since then?

My days of shopping in vintage and second-hand shops abruptly came to an end when I moved to the fashion capital of the world, Milan, in the year 2000.

Boots played a necessary role in my life from the day I started walking. Since I was raised in Eastern Canada, where winters are long and brutal, wearing boots for 9 months out of the year, was not unusual. I also worked in film for over a decade and I had to wear steel-toed boots on film sets, regardless of the weather conditions, winter or summer.

Following my incident in that frozen field in Montreal, I began having dreams that played out more like nightmares, for these were anxiety-ridden. There was a recurring theme centered on me being in a crowded station, street, or a dirty public washroom and suddenly realizing I was barefoot. I felt incredibly vulnerable and woke up distressed.

This might explain why I started collecting cowboy boots, tall and short and in a variety of colors. There was something about a well-crafted pair of cowboy boots that gave me a sense of security. These are sturdy, reliable, and comfortable, with a tall shaft that protects your ankles, shins, and calves and they last for years on end. I had a special walk-in closet for these and took good care of them, until the summer of 1999 when I decided to sell the entire collection, along with practically everything I owned, and relocated to Europe.

There are days, even 22 years later when I regret having parted with my cowboy boot collection. Especially given the price of quality well made footwear these days.

Once I left Canada, for the warmer winter climate of Italy, it didn’t take long for me to start working on my new collection with made in Italy boots. Initially, I insisted on wearing boots in summer, especially since it felt safer riding a scooter with boots than sandals. By 2003 with the first intense heatwave, I lived through in Milan, I put away the boots for the summer months.

In Milan, I discovered thigh-high boots to be the perfect solution for driving the scooter during the winter months and I developed a serious addiction to thigh-high boots which still persists. It is similar to having pangs for some distant lover.

Some boots I’ve worn to the ground, others are still sitting intact in my closet, worn a few times only, and these are in good company with a slew of jackets, shirts, and dresses from my corporate days that no longer see the light of day.

Several years ago I started having this nagging feeling that less was better. When I traveled I found I was perfectly happy with the few items I had stuffed in my carry-on luggage, although, even then I managed to pack stuff that I wouldn’t wear. I consequently gave away a good part of what I was not wearing to a you g mother and her teenage daughter.

How many different hoodies, dresses, jackets, and jeans do you have and yet you keep wearing the same two all year? Most people wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time and yet the fast-fashion merry-go-round keeps consumers spinning their wheels and filling up their online carts.

The average consumer purchases 60% more clothing now than 15 years ago, however, these lower quality items being purchased last half as long. Cheap synthetic fabrics and badly sewn together garments create a vicious cycle that may be advantageous for fast fashion brands, just not as beneficial for the consumer and the environment.

I went through my closet a month ago and the irony of it all is that items I purchased anywhere from 20 to 30 years ago are in better shape, almost new, whereas any garment purchased over the last 5 years is either looking shabby or ready to toss. I’ve have had to toss a significant number of boots, shoes, and jackets that literally fell apart within one or two years and could not be mended or repaired.

For example, boots made with fake leather that literally come unglued from the soles within a few months of wearing, cannot be repaired, since often there is barely enough material to work with or the material and workmanship are not conducive to repairs. Consumers have lost their right to repair anything from a pair of boots to their computers.

Fast fashion flourished in the early 2000s coinciding with H&M’s opening in New York and my relocation to the fashion city of Milan. That is pretty much around the time that polyester replaced cotton as the most in-demand fiber in the industry, and from thereon dramatic changes ensued in the production and consumption of clothing worldwide.

My mother, having been a seamstress, was what I would label a fabric snob. She was not impressed with synthetic fabrics and used to say they made her skin cringe. Of course, synthetic fabrics have come a long way since then, and now these cleverly imitate any number of quality fabrics.

For the last two decades, and thanks to e-commerce, fast fashion picked up speed, widened its reach, and increased production. Fast fashion brands such as Zara, H&M, and GAP, amongst others, released anywhere from 600 to 900 new garment styles a week.

Those days must be quickly coming to an end. The reliance of fast fashion on fossil fuels is nothing new to us and it’s undeniably the backbone of the fast fashion business model. Now with water and resource shortages, and vertiginous increases in fuel costs I’m imagining it will prove difficult for fast fashion to continue in its race against time, and inflation. Add to that the fact that more and more consumers are becoming aware of the importance to reduce waste and expenses.

While the responsibility to break the fast fashion model lies with the major stakeholders and policymakers, we as consumers have an important role as well. We must put an end to compulsive shopping and buy only what we really need, when we need it. Consumers must contribute to achieving a more sustainable future, by buying less and developing an appreciation for quality.

What should determine the value of an item? In my opinion durability and craftsmanship are synonymous with quality.

Renewing our wardrobe, every season, by buying clothes that fall apart after a few washes might have been justifiable, in some warped sense, by low costs and consumers’ insatiable desire for variety, but that is no longer a viable option.

If you stop to think about it fabric is one of the most important components in our daily lives, from the clothes we wear to the upholstery of our home furniture and cars, to our bed linen.  The fabric used will determine the value, comfort, and durability of the item in question. Not all fabrics are suitable for all applications and not all fabrics are alike when it comes to quality.

For example, cheap or ill-suited fabrics in upholstery will quickly turn that new sofa into a junkyard piece as the fabric stretches, thins, fades, easily stains, and rips at the seams. Have you purchased any faux leather items for your home or wardrobe, to see these flake apart in no time even when barely used? I’ve had two faux leather jackets fall apart on their own while hanging in my closet. Maybe these items should have an expiry date, like dairy products.

Buying knockoffs can be tempting but beware of fabric quality and stitching. The devil is in the details. This image shows a badly constructed Leger knockoff, which lost its shape after the first wash and is ready to be tossed.

As a consumer, you owe it to yourself to know the difference between valued fabrics and cheap fabrics. Whether you are buying new furniture for your home, a new suit, or a special dress, the fabric used and craftsmanship will make all the difference.

High-end, natural textiles typically come with a price, however, when building a solid, timelessly elegant wardrobe, these fabrics are worth the investment. Silk, cashmere, leather, and linen have long been highly acclaimed, sought after, and more expensively priced for obvious reasons.

If your closet is full and you still can’t figure out what to wear, it may be a sign that you have too much and it is time to let go and reduce. You may have outgrown some of your wardrobe items, they may no longer be in fashion and maybe it’s stuff that you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing now.

How many items can you count in your wardrobe that you’ve only worn once, if at all, and how many did you forget you even had? Buy less and when you do buy, opt for quality, because in the long run quality and durability will pay off.

Aside from having that favorite suit, dress, or jacket still looking and feeling new for many years ahead, clothing made with quality fabrics can be resold at a good value. My cowboy boot collection sold very well.

Whether you are investing in your home or wardrobe, learn to recognize quality so you can make smart purchases, and before buying any new clothing item ask yourself, will I wear this at least 30 times? Unless the answer is yes, don’t purchase it.

All this takes me back to my mother, that throughout her life remained frugal and thrifty even when she had the money to spend. It may have been due to her being a child at the end of WWII or finding herself married with three children by the age of 24, that made her a prudent and astute consumer, either way, it stayed with her for life. I am grateful for her example. I too, like many, was temporarily swept away by compulsive shopping, but I can proudly say I am healed.

Has Social Media Become A Tool Of Social Oppression?

Online censorship picked up momentum over the last few years, and as a result, many suddenly had something to feel offended by. Are being woke, censorship, and cancel culture intimately connected by obscure puritanical roots, or is there a more sinister plot?

Social media was the perfect platform for a contemporary revival of public shaming and scapegoating, which have been around for centuries. An excellent platform to aggregate and steer the masses. World leaders and mainstream media never had it so easy when it comes to swaying public opinion.

What Does Being Woke Mean?

Being woke means being aware of and understanding the real world, observing, and paying attention.

Some may think it’s a fairly new term being thrown around, when in fact the phrase was coined by Huddie William Ledbetter in Scottsboro Boys, in 1938, and immortalized by a union official, in an article to J Saunders Redding, in 1942.  

What exactly does being woke mean these days? According to online search results, the meaning of WOKE is being aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues. I suppose it depends on who decides what is important, at any given time.

I wish being woke meant that we have pulled the wool off our eyes and clearly see that social polarization, inflation, poverty, unemployment, censorship, and inequality are at an all-time high because that’s the kind of wokeness we desperately need.

The Past Is A Land To Be Cultivated

Remember when some got busy taking down statues and monuments of Christopher Columbus, who has been accused of favoring colonialism? Has anyone stopped to think that during Europe’s era of discovery Columbus was doing what many other explorers, being sponsored by their kingdoms, were doing? Should we erase all mention of colonialism in history books as well?

From statues, and monuments we moved on to language and waged war on Comedians. We are experiencing a redefinition of humor. Some comedians have sounded the alarm, stating that cancel culture is killing comedy. Chris Rock, Jennifer Saunders and others argue that ‘wokeness’ is stifling comedy. Has social media become a tool of oppression?

When the war between Ukraine and Russia broke out many chose to cancel Russian culture, by throwing great Russian philosophers, authors, and artists into the gutter in a gesture of protest. People seem so fickle to me when they make themselves so readily available to wave a new flag.

I agree with Italian Author Dacia Maraini when she states, in her book The past is a land to be cultivated, that canceling people and ideas of the past, because they don’t respect today’s sensibilities, is to deny history’s great metamorphic capacity. It means to defeat achievements, reject evolution, and dismantle the precious passages of time. It means we have entered a dangerous place in our collective mind.

As Spanish painter, Francisco Goya asserted the sleep of reason breeds monsters.”

What will future generations make of this? How will they judge our actions in a few decades? Will they condemn our beliefs as archaic and out of place, the way the west condemned the group known as ISIL, in 2015, when they destroyed ancient temples, religious icons, and monuments in Palmyra?

Algorithms Of Oppression

Safiya Noble, in her book Algorithms of Oppression, discusses search engine bias in a revealing look at how negative biases against women of color are embedded in search engine results and algorithms.  

Run a Google search for “black girls”—what will you find? “Big Booty” and other sexually explicit terms are likely to come up as top search terms. But, if you type in “white girls,” the results are radically different. The suggested porn sites and un-moderated discussions about “why black women are so sassy” or “why black women are so angry” presents a disturbing portrait of black womanhood in modern society. 

I’m of the opinion that our democratic process has failed us, and that these modern cultural online movements, such as wokeness, manipulate people into taking positions that support actions that they might not have agreed to otherwise. A very effective way of controlling people, by erasing or manipulating history, culture, and language.

We could take Malcolm X’s quote and replace the term Newspaper with Social Media.

People have become afraid of terms such as working class and socialism, even equating socialism to communism. That’s what they want you to believe.

Call it whatever you want, but in the end, it is the difference between living the truth or living a lie that has been insidiously perpetrated and is being dished out as the absolute truth or the only acceptable one.  

Many have fallen prey to the old strategic play: DIVIDE AND CONQUER.  Think about it.  It’s time for people to realize that they have the power. Let us remove these virtual leashes, and take our lives and conscience into our own hands. 

Will Insistent Droughts Lead To Water Wars?

The term Water Wars gets 654 million results on Google, and many of us are alarmed, and some, like myself, are imagining worst-case scenarios. A bleak picture, to say the least. We are living in an era where reality is scarier than any apocalyptic fiction, with or without zombies.

Lately, whenever I open the tap, whether it’s to wash my face or vegetables, apocalyptic scenarios play out. A skeletal future where food, water, heat, electricity shortages, and rations will be routine and diseases spread like wildfire. I see herds of people, globally, falling through the cracks. From those who had planned a serene retirement, to all the young who have little to look forward to.

If you type “water shortage” in Google you’ll get about 86,300,000 results and you’ll run across so many contradictory articles, that it’s hard to know what and who to believe, so I know I’m probably not alone with my dark visions of the future.

You Don’t Know What You Have Until It’s Gone

8 years ago, in a washroom where I worked, I expressed my disapproval of a colleague’s teeth brushing routine. She kept the water running the whole time. She gave me a look that said, mind your own business. She’s been on my mind this year since much of Europe is experiencing extreme drought and some districts were rationed during the summer months. I ask myself whether she’s changed her ways.

What causes me grief is that no matter how much some of us really make the effort to reduce waste, just as many don’t, including big businesses and corporations.

The general public is definitely becoming more aware of the value of water and more importantly the uncertainties posed by climate change. As the old saying goes, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”

Resource Shortages Induce Conflict

I recently discovered, while searching through google’s 86,300,000 results, that 53 international river basins are shared by three or more nations, however, these are mostly managed by bilateral treaties which can, and often do aggravate tensions in times of strife, such as droughts.

mass die off of fish in Poland's Oder 

Let me use this environmental disaster as an example; in July 2022, when tons of lifeless fish began washing up on the banks of the river Oder, which runs along the borders of Germany and Poland, it didn’t take long for the situation to deteriorate. Recent news reports make it clear that there is no functional cross-border environmental protection plan or program, and no efficient exchange of information between municipalities along the border either.

One would think that water issues, as in this case, would be a good enough reason for cooperation, instead, it seems it has become a source of conflict for various interest groups.

“Green politicians from the state of Brandenburg point the finger at Poland, speaking of a “failure to provide information” and call on the federal government in Berlin to intervene. Green politicians from Poland point the finger at the PiS in Warsaw.”


At the 1992 Earth Summit, Fidel Castro said ” Consumer societies are chiefly responsible for this appalling environmental destruction. Stop transferring to the Third World lifestyles and consumer habits that ruin the environment. Make human life more rational. Adopt a just international economic order. Use science to achieve sustainable development without pollution. Pay the ecological debt. Eradicate hunger and not humanity.”

Whether or not you were a Fidel Castro fan, it’s a little difficult to disagree with his argument. Maybe Fidel was having a good day laying all of the blame on his capitalist rivals at the Earth Summit, still, I believe he was right and that we’ve maxed out. The planet can no longer sustain continued increases in urbanization and industrial activities.

Are We Heading For Water Wars?

In the International Journal of Water Resources Development, Volume 35 dated July 2019, they argue we should take the water crisis with a pinch of salt. According to their reports, how much renewable water a country has is not a meaningful metric, however, they do state that the amount of available water will depend primarily on how well this resource is managed.

The International Journal of Water Resources Development advises us against this sort of thinking. The article maintains that it is wrong to think in terms of water shortages, because “A direct by-product of this current limited thinking has been the increasing focus on ‘water wars’ between countries because of lack of water, whereas the Palmer Drought Index paints a dreary picture, “2021 began with 82.0% of the West experiencing moderate to extreme drought. The percentage dropped to 79.0 percent by the end of February but shot up to 99.0 percent by the end of June 2021.”

That was 2021, can’t wait to see the data for 2022.

Fighting over water won’t magically produce more water. Many countries need to significantly improve water management practices, reduce the demand for all types of water uses, and control water contamination. Even volume 35 of the International Journal of Water Resources Development clearly outlines there is no feasible scenario where a country can increase water availability progressively, constantly, and cost-effectively without limits, forever. Only if countries improve water management practices, which some are gradually doing, water problems can be solved.

I’ve always been a conservationist and an active advocate for the environment. I’m that person who saves the water used to cook pasta or potatoes for watering plants. I’m that person who uses other people’s garbage to make works of art. I’m that person who will tell you not to buy a Nespresso or any kind of coffee maker that uses pods. I’m that person who will tell you to turn off your car, while you’re waiting for a friend who hasn’t shown up yet. I’m that person who gets on some people’s nerves.

I started one of the very first paper recycling projects, in downtown Toronto’s Dominion Twin Towers, when I was gainfully employed at Ernst & Young in the late 80s. At Sky Italia, in Milan where I worked for 17 years, I was actively engaged in creating environmental awareness, within the company, for several years.

During the years I was actively involved in introducing environmental awareness and recycling into corporate environments, reminding people to recycle, reuse and reduce waste, one of the harsh realities that I encountered was that regardless of the number of people that jumped on board, there were just as many that remained oblivious.

Regardless of your stance, as a business or individual, it wouldn’t hurt if we all made an effort to save ourselves by salvaging our planet. Let’s all work together to make the constructive changes we so desperately need. Together we can go a long way in creating a better more sustainable future for humankind. Small acts can lead to big changes.

Coffee Rituals

When I scroll through my social media feeds there seem to be a lot of inspirational quotes and idioms being shared and enjoyed. I’d like to call your attention to a very simple idiom, perhaps antiquated, yet more valid in our times than ever. I am referring to the idiom, Stop and Smell the Roses, which as we know is an invitation to take the time needed to enjoy and appreciate the finer and simpler things in life

I invite you to reacquaint yourself with one of the simple pleasures of life, which is a good rich, dark, fragrant cup of Java, prepared the old-fashioned way. A simple pleasure that many have simply forgotten, since preparing coffee at home has become an unremarkable daily activity. Where is the pleasure when you drop a sealed coffee pod in your Nespresso and push a button?

From stovetop, drips, and espresso coffee makers to Nespresso, the choices are endless when it comes to choosing how we want to engage in this daily ritualistic pleasure. This post is dedicated to stovetop coffee makers. A stovetop Moka or espresso maker, are, in my opinion, the best, cheapest, and simplest way to really enjoy the ritual of coffee making at home.

Stovetop Mokas typically produce a concentrated rich coffee brew, with a nice golden cream on the top as you would expect from a barista-made espresso. If you use less coffee and more water you’ll get a more diluted, less potent, black coffee.

You can add milk to whatever comes out of your Moka for lattes or cappuccinos.

For coffee devotees, it is no different than for tea lovers with tea rituals worldwide. Coffee also has an interesting history, for example, coffee rituals were observed as a sacrament in communal Ethiopian ceremonies, and to keep up energy.

Personally, I take an artistic ritual approach and as such, would never give up the pleasure of opening a sealed bag of fresh ground coffee and taking in the rich exotic aroma.

One of the small pleasures in life is waking up to a heavenly cup of aromatic coffee. There are many who couldn’t imagine welcoming a new day, without a cup of this dark rich nectar of the gods. A good, well-prepared cup of coffee is pure ambrosia to boost our senses.

If you are a coffee aficionado, then you know that not all coffees are created equally. To experience the full pleasure of coffee, you can’t beat coffee beans, set aside ground coffee and coffee pods, for alas these pale by comparison.

The selection of coffee beans is vast. Similar to wine, coffee can have a light, medium, or strong body, and the selection is further enriched with an array of flavored coffee beans to choose from. Flavored coffee beans are enhanced with flavored natural oils from spices, nuts, or herbs, once the beans have been roasted.

Chuck away your Nespresso and Nespresso lookalikes or any pod coffee maker if you want to experience the pleasures of java to the fullest and for a more sustainable lifestyle. Rituals are an integral part of many pleasure-related activities and the ritual of preparing a delectable cup of coffee is just as important in enhancing the overall enjoyment.

Make It Worth My While

I’m an existing customer and I’m your best customer. Make it worth my while and watch me turn into a loyal customer.

Growing your business should not solely focus on getting new clients. Getting your current customers to appreciate, value, and continue to use your products or services more often is just as important, and provides surprising opportunities for increased revenue.

Stop Rewarding Only New Customers

As a new customer, I might subscribe to your weekly or monthly newsletter to get a discount on my first purchase, but what happens after my first or second purchase?

Has anyone ever unsubscribed only to re-subscribe in order to qualify for the discount reserved for new customers? I have, even by simply using a different email account. Stop rewarding only new customers. Existing returning customers or long-standing subscribers should get some special attention and not only new customers should be rewarded with discounts.

Online businesses generally focus on new customer activation and not so much on current customers, whether these are active or not. 

It’s Cheaper To Retain A Customer Than To Acquire A New One

Although standards vary from company to company, most online businesses, according to popular surveys show that only 25-30% percent of customers actually order a second time over the course of the first year. This is a clear indication that most new customers lose interest after the first sale. Believe it or not, it’s a known fact that, it is cheaper to retain existing customers than acquire new ones, so it’s important to include a strategy, in your marketing plans, that focuses on retaining existing customers. An offer they can’t refuse, that clearly communicates your appreciation and keeps them coming back. Make it worth their while.

Make It Worth Your Customers’ While

Last year I purchased my favorite coffee online from the company that produces this specific brand, since not all stores carry it. What bothered me is I had to purchase enough to last me a year in order to qualify for free shipment. Recently I was on my last confection of coffee and when I went to a local grocery store I found the exact same coffee for 10 cents less a pack and I could buy two or three instead of 20.

It obviously isn’t worth my while to purchase this coffee directly from the producer’s online shop since it costs me more, with the added hassle of having to order and store a large quantity. So next time I can’t find it at the grocery store I’ll probably try something new, unless I receive an email with a discount offer on my favorite coffee if I return as a customer.

Why Retaining Your Existing Customers Is Important For Your Business

  • Customer retention is much cheaper than customer acquisition, so if you’ve come this far and a customer has made a purchase, it stands to reason that focusing on retaining that existing customer will increase your ROI
  • Customer retention increases loyalty and the lifetime value of customers
  • If you’re a retailer with an e-commerce business, you can double your revenue by simply retaining 10% of your existing customers

Through focused marketing and targeted ad content, you can give your customers a reason as to why they should continue to enjoy your product or services. Take for example California’s iconic “Got Milk?” campaign, produced in 1993, which saw milk sales rise by 7% in the first year. The ad targeted people who were already drinking milk and entirely focused on the consumer base they had. The campaign made a significant impression across state borders as well.


What Can You Do To Retain Existing Customers?

Online businesses rely heavily on email campaigns. So instead of focusing only on email campaigns that will increase customer activation rates, focus on retaining existing customers. Make them feel special. It’s not enough to send emails for your seasonal sales and offers. Include a voucher, coupon, or free samples, along with their first delivery. Help your new customer take action and return to your website or online store. Don’t cram their inbox with a series of emails they’ll never read or with a list of discounted products from your production, that may not interest them. Try putting a little effort into it by personalizing the email and the offer.

Following their second purchase make customers feel special by providing discounts custom made for them.

A company I purchase from online has a very robust customer retention program. Not only did I get a 15% discount and free shipping on my first purchase, but when I subscribed I also began receiving regular monthly discount codes via email, up to 30%. off, whether I had been active or not, promoting excellent products at very competitive prices, including my personal favorites. On top of it, they throw in free samples with every purchase for returning customers. I know for a fact this company did not let any of their first-time customers escape, instead, they turned them into advocates for their products.

  • Build and grow brand awareness among your existing customers
  • Provide seasonal offers, but also provide existing repeat customers with customized offers. For a seamless experience, you can direct customers to a dedicated rewards and referrals page on your website
  • Keep it simple. An easy-to-use interface for customers to take action and redeem their rewards, as simple as a Code they can apply at check-out.
  • The secret lies in turning your repeat customer into a loyal customer, one who will not consider alternatives

There is a difference between a repeat customer and a loyal customer. Loyal customers will tell their friends and family about your product or service, creating free organic word-of-mouth marketing for your business. Once you’ve built a solid loyal customer base, it will prove difficult for any competitor to take that away from you.

I am a professional content and copywriter. if your business needs well-crafted written content to acquire new customers or turn your existing customers into loyal customers, let’s connect.

Can You Trust Your Intuition?

How often have you found yourself regretting not having followed your intuition? Careful don’t confuse intuition with instinct.

Intuition Vs Instinct

Intuition is insight, it is not a reaction, whereas instinct is a natural automatic reaction or response to a situation. Instinct, also known as a gut feeling, is connected with fear and survival. It’s about doing whatever is necessary to stay safe and alive. By comparison, intuition is a higher level of awareness, it is the capacity to sense energies and use these to make wise choices.  

Humans do not make purely logical decisions. Our brains use a combination of logic and emotions when formulating all kinds of decisions. Intuition is an intrinsic human trait.

“Intuition is when your mind takes in massive amounts of information, and processes it so thoroughly, and quickly, that you are unaware of the process, but are left with the answer.” Intuition is the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.

What Are Some Examples Of Intuition?

Intuition can refer to a feeling about a situation or a person, without any rational explanation. It can be as simple as “having a feeling” that you should leave your vacation a day earlier than planned, only to discover afterward that you dodged two earthquakes.  This happened to me, on a road trip visiting friends in California, in the summer of 1992 when two of the strongest earthquakes hit southern California on a single sunny morning.

You have no idea how many times you’ve averted danger, simply by listening to your inner voice. When you chose to take an alternate route, leave early or later, or maybe cancel the appointment altogether because you were feeling uneasy about a situation. You might even twist an ankle or you might miss your flight, along with a variety of apparent mishaps that turn out to be blessings in disguise, so to speak.

Sometimes it feels like divine intervention.  Take as an example the stories of those New Yorkers who, for a series of apparently frustrating reasons, were running late or couldn’t make it to their office in the Twin Towers on the morning these collapsed. Had they made it to work on time, they would not have lived to tell about it.

At times it’s simply listening to your intuition. It’s not foretelling the future but it’s a heads up of sorts.

Is Intuition Real?

People often look for guidance in life. There are those who search for answers through prayer, those that consult fortune tellers in the hopes of seeing a glimpse of the future or to find answers that will help them make a choice in the present.

Many powerful and successful individuals, throughout history, are known to have employed the services of astrologers, card readers, and clairvoyants.

Foretelling the future has always been in demand.  In our day and era, advice and all kinds of divinations are available online. Promises are made, to resolve all kinds of troubles, reunite lovers, eliminate misfortune, and much more. Just type Astrology in google and you’ll get about 413,000,000 results. 

Type Tarot and you get 243,000,000 results 

We possess the capacity to feel, and thereby the ability to know things without consciously reasoning. Intuition is real, and we use it all the time, even if we are not aware of doing so. Ultimately we make decisions based on massive amounts of information already available to us even when we are not conscious of the process. Intuition is as close as we get to foretelling our own future.

Why Do Marriages Fall Apart In The First Five Years?

Lifespan of a Marriage

Marriage is a risky business.  Studies indicate that 20 percent of marriages end within the first five years and within 10 years it increases by 12 percent. The business of building a couple is an art that requires skills and techniques. There are rules. A successful marriage starts with getting to know all the rules, be these written, unwritten, spoken, or unspoken. 

How many couples start out like they put the ‘more’ in amore, ready to pave the way together towards a rosy future, and by the time the future arrives they are either at each other’s throats or entirely dismissive towards each other?  The most commonly reported contributors to divorce are lack of commitment, infidelity, and excessive arguing

A peaceful relationship is not free of conflict.  Be prepared for the occasional fight/argument and making up after a fight.  One method which is widely practiced, and preferred by men, is “make-up sex”. Nothing like a good fight to get the blood rushing, heated verbal congress can translate into a state of arousal, and consequently, stupefying sex. Careful though, don’t start fights with your partner just for the make-up sex, they’ll figure it out faster than you think, and you don’t want to turn sex into a bartering tool.

They (psychologists) say that men talk to get things done, whereas women talk to make emotional connections and this is where many marriages lose their footing. You’ve heard it before, ‘Men talk about things, women talk about people, relationships, and feelings.’ This limiting view on gender was widely perpetuated by the book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, by John Grey. While such black-and-white concepts about men and women are still being disputed, many couples still fall prey to these gender stereotypes.

Are you familiar with the movie, War of the Roses? The Roses may be caricatures, as a couple, but they also started out as lovebirds.  The rise and fall of their love story and the ferociousness of their fighting are not so far-fetched. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend you do.

You don’t fix things by trying to fix your partner, so this is where negotiating skills are useful. The purpose of negotiating is to see if you can get your interests met through an agreement.  Be Prepared. If you are not clear on what needs to be accomplished in a particular negotiation and how to get there, you can get lost in the process while getting bogged down in details and lose track of what you really want to accomplish.  An interest is why you want something, not what you want.

The most powerful negotiating skill is listening 

It is said that the most powerful negotiating skill is listening. It’s not that simple when you consider that 93% of communication is nonverbal. The tone of voice accounts for 38% and body language 55% of communication. What your body is communicating while listening to your partner may speak louder than words.

Who Calls the Shots? Imbalance of Power 

When one partner has more decision-making power it could prove to be a treacherous road ahead.

  • Who decides what you do together on the weekends and holidays? 
  • Who manages household finances? 
  • Who makes decisions on big purchases for the home? 
  • Who controls the TV remote?
  • Who’s on top?

Control Issues 

When one partner controls or manipulates the other, the relationship generally suffers the consequences. It’s quite natural to want control of your own life but not to the extent of controlling everyone around you into the bargain. 

Ineffective Communication 

This one is a definite clincher. Ineffective communication can turn into a weapon, it has the power to hurt, confuse and misinform the listener and can lead to excessive arguing.

Perpetuating cyclical arguments

If your relationship is stuck in a rut by perpetual cyclical arguments, here’s a short list of what NOT TO DO as a couple.

  • Withdraw – Give minimal responses.  Exit in the middle of a heated conversation. Be sure to send the message that you don’t care or can’t be bothered by what your partner is saying. 
  • Resentful Compliance – Be over-accommodating. Don’t say what you really think or feel. Now you’ve generated a good dose of resentment, telling yourself that your partner doesn’t understand you
  • Whine – Complain. Compete for the victim position. Be indirect about what you want.
  • Blame – Try to dominate the discussion. Refuse to take personal responsibility. Yell. Accuse. Point fingers

Excessive Jealousy

The first effect of excessive jealousy is that it causes continual fear, worry, and even paranoia in the one who is jealous.  Jealousy provokes paranoia, and paranoia provokes control and as a consequence, the object of jealousy will begin to withdraw. Jealousy, in a sense, becomes its own self-fulfilling prophecy.

Lying and Cheating 

These are blatant violations of trust and the rules dictating a relationship, so if you’re a lying and cheating type, be prepared to spend a lot of time in waiting rooms as you are headed straight for a marriage counselor or lawyer. Consider the possibility you’re not cut out or simply not ready for marriage.

In the business of building a couple, it’s not the stuff in small print on the marriage contract that comes back to bite you, it’s all the stuff that’s not written. 

Lack of Commitment

This one sounds like a total contradiction, I mean why would anyone get married if they suffer commitment phobia, relationship anxiety, or fear of commitment? Yet lack of commitment is listed as the main contributor to divorces with a 74% rating.

  • If you have a history of short-lived relationships, you might want to work on your commitment issues before considering marriage.
  • If you are terrified and not particularly keen on making future plans with your partner, don’t get married. If your partner is terrified of making future plans with you, don’t et married!
  • If you would rather avoid talking or thinking about the future of the relationship, don’t get married. If your partner would rather avoid talking or thinking about the future of the relationship, don’t get married!
  • Don’t feel bad, some people are just not cut out for the mainstream relationship model. Long-term relationships, monogamy, marriage, and kids are not a good fit for all of us.

There are many ills that can plague a marriage. When a couple can’t get their marriage back on track they can always resort to a therapist, a marriage counselor, a priest, or a lawyer, depending on what point they’re at and whether or not there is hope for reconciliation.

On the other hand, some might prefer the advice of Benjamin Franklin, who said, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterward”.

Is There A More Energetic, Happier, Healthier You Waiting To Be Awakened?

Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. Living the life you desire now is a matter of intention, gratitude, and the ability to act on the opportunities that fate presents you with. Fate represents the potentials and possibilities in your life, destiny is shaped by the choices you make.

We can make dreams come true by clarifying insights and through consolidated efforts and commitment to our vision of ourselves and our lives.

Is there a more energetic, happier, healthier you waiting to be awakened?

Everything starts in our minds. Our thoughts and feelings followed by ACTION shape our lives, and our destiny. The most important person you talk to is yourself. You are ultimately the one who makes choices and decisions.

Start being aware of your thoughts, and your intentions, to create the reality you want. Even during daily chores like washing up, and doing dishes, the thoughts that run through your mind are important. Are you always planning for tomorrow or thinking about what happened earlier, yesterday, or last year?  Are your thoughts positive, or negative? Most of this chatter happens without us being consciously aware.

Becoming aware of this process will help you dismantle any destructive or self-defeating beliefs and thought patterns. 

“If you were to hold a magnet in one hand and a needle in the other, the magnet would attract the needle to itself and hold it. The needle is powerless to change its destiny because its energy is scattered. However, if you were to realign the energy of the needle by stroking it with the magnet 20 or 30 times in one direction, the needle will become a magnet as well. We are much like that needle. We have the power to create our dreams when we use our energy efficiently. Sadly most people use their energy to create what they don’t want. ” (Neale Donald Walsch)

By doubting yourself, talking or thinking about what you don’t want, dwelling on problems, and thinking negatively, you create a spiraling effect that will attract exactly what you fear and don’t want. Our thoughts words and actions are the energy source we use to create what we want or don’t want. Avoid absolutes and exaggerations, such as, I always procrastinate, or I never finish what I start, I always overeat or I never stick to a diet, and so on.

Focus on what is possible and let go of playing the victim, with internal narratives that leave you feeling guilty for not succeeding. It’s a waste of energy and won’t manifest into anything constructive. It’s okay to fail, move on and try again with a new perspective and approach.

Don’t set unrealistic standards that you wouldn’t even expect others to meet. Expecting yourself to exceed even the best and then punishing yourself if you fail is another spiral best avoided. Focus on what is possible.

To achieve your goals, use your energy efficiently. Think and talk positively about what you want and in doing so you will attract people and situations to help you manifest your dreams. This is called synchronicity.

Synchronicity is a term coined by Carl Jung to describe the power we all have to create our own coincidences. These result from the energy we create via our thoughts, words, and actions.

“In 1952 C. G. Jung published a paradoxical hypothesis on synchronicity that marked an attempt to expand the western world’s conception of the relationship between nature and the psyche. Jung’s hypothesis sought to break down the polarizing cause-effect assessment of the world and psyche, suggesting that everything is interconnected. Thus, synchronicity is both “a meaningful event” and “an acausal connecting principle.” Evaluating the world in this manner opened the door to “exploring the possibility of meaning in chance or random events, deciphering if and when meaning might be present even if outside conscious awareness.”

Meditate and focus on the quality of life you want and ask yourself what changes you would like to see in your life. Replace your negative thinking and talking with positive thoughts, words, and actions. You have nothing to lose and only gain by becoming aware of your negative patterns and introducing new meaningful positive patterns of self-communication. Start to use your energy more efficiently and achieve your dreams and goals.

Syncronicity is an ever present reality, for those that have eyes to see.

Carl Jung

Who’s Getting Away With Murder?

In 2018, mainstream media took a big bite out of what would become an ongoing polemic discussion surrounding Global Warming. Four years later, the climate crisis, clad in fatalistic headlines, is competing for the spotlight with the Ukraine-Russia war. All of it enhanced by the grim backdrop of droughts, fires, and impending shortages, from fuel to food. To me, it reads as though it is the end of the world as we know it.

Some would argue that had the media given a voice to scientists, and those that have been shouting warning signals at us since the mid-60s, we wouldn’t be where we are now. What if the media had jumped on board during the American elections in 2000 and unveiled the dysfunctional electoral system in Florida that allowed George Bush to win against Al Gore? 

“Had Al Gore, a politician who understood global warming, been declared the winner of the 2000 presidential election, we might have dodged the bullet. If the U.S. Supreme Court had not awarded the election to George W. Bush, climate change would have become a major priority.”

Los angeles times

Would Gore have led the USA towards a 21st-century energy economy, pushing the development of solar and wind power and phasing out oil, natural gas, and nuclear, setting an example?

That’s all hindsight now, yet 21 years later in an article dated November 2021, the Los Angeles Times paints a picture of what the world would be like if Al Gore had won instead of Bush, as have many others. Unfortunately, hindsight is rarely as useful as foresight.

Turning my attention to more recent developments with mainstream media, personally, I would have preferred a different coverage of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, because it appeared to me that mainstream media was the engine behind public approval for this war, and all too eager to move forward, whether it was about spending, weapons or sanctions, anything in support of this war, also known as propaganda. Hell, Euronews saw it fit to do a rebranding of the news, with a new opener, showcasing frontline action on the border between Ukraine and Russia, with journalists in daunting combat attire. I noticed they recently removed it. I don’t remember mainstream media ever being so unanimous, not even with the Arms of Mass Destruction, during the Iraq war.

Mainstream media can be a vehicle of misinformation and, at its best, it often suffers the absence of clear intent. They hold the reins and they do not deserve to. They have repeatedly demonstrated that they are either puppets or invested in some conflict of interest. Whatever happened to investigative journalism?

Many do not want the truth published, from the powerful, to the pious and corrupt. The world is full of those who want to stay in the shadows.  In 2021 alone, 55 journalists were killed because they were exposing corruption and conflict, or afflicting the wealthy and powerful by revealing the truth. In your opinion is Julian Assange a criminal or a revolutionary?

A new kind of media is needed. Don’t expect Jesus to save us.  Real bonifide journalists and the likes of Julian Assange, who sacrificed his freedom for the truth, that’s as close as we get to the messiah spreading the truth among common people on earth. 

Real Journalism is rare and the few that still dare practice it, are being hushed through censorship, arrest, and death. If those in power can put a muzzle on the media, they are getting away with more than murder.