Is your current lifestyle eco-friendly? Are you a conscious consumer? If you’re not sure and want to learn how to be better, then this guide is for you!
by Tess DiNapoli | Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but she also enjoys covering the fashion industry and world of fitness.
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We live in a globalized, consumerist world where it’s easy for most of us to go around the corner and buy goods from a thousand different places. We can choose to take this convenience and run, never thinking about where our goods came from and how they got there.
However, the responsible way to be a consumer is not usually the easiest way. Putting thought and effort into our choices takes a lot of time and research, and sometimes it’s even impossible to know how and where something was made.
Today, it’s more important than ever to be a conscious consumer, and it doesn’t have to be crazy difficult. We’ll get you started on why and how to live a sustainable lifestyle, starting with the little choices we can make every day.
Why Conscious Consumption Is Important
If you’re taking the time to read this, you’re probably already aware of and concerned about the environmental crisis playing out in the world around us. It’s not just climate change looming over our shoulders, but deforestation, garbage-filled oceans, desertification, habitat destruction, species loss, and much more.
You might need a reminder that our little choices matter even in the grand scheme of the world, and even if the mega-corporations are doing the bulk of the dirty work. So here it is:
- Our choices DO affect mega-corporations. If we reduce demand for products that are made unsustainably, the companies will receive a market signal that this is what the people want and will pay for.
- Likewise, boycotting a corporation for unsustainable practices can affect its PR and its finances, motivating them to change.
- Every little bit of plastic we don’t buy is plastic that might not end up strangling a sea turtle in the ocean. In other words, thinking about the materials we consume will make a large impact on our lifetimes.
- Your actions will directly or indirectly influence the people around you, multiplying the positive effects.
You don’t have to give up the finer things in life in the name of becoming a conscious consumer. You can easily find beautiful, designer clothing, jewelry, and all sorts of fashion that’s made sustainably. Often, designer brands have the most resources to be sustainable!
Think of sustainable, luxury clothing as an investment. High-quality clothing is usually more versatile, doesn’t depend on trends, and lasts you a lot longer. Fast fashion is made with little regard for environmental impact and worker rights in underdeveloped nations, and every regard for what they think will fit a trend.
Fight back against these wasteful practices by abiding by the “less is more” mantra. Look for designer clothing labels that are transparent about where they source materials and labels. Quality over quantity is especially important when it comes to fashion.
Jewelry can also fall into this trap. Many gemstones and metals are sourced from mines with poor conditions and worker protection. Lab-grown diamonds are skyrocketing in popularity not just for their ethical sources, but also because they’re just as brilliant and beautiful with a lower price tag.
Ask yourself before shopping:
- Could this have been made with unethical labor?
- Are these materials made from sustainable natural fibers like silk, cotton, hemp, or linen, or are they made with polyester that doesn’t degrade or recycle well?
- Do I really need this clothing, or am I shopping out of habit, impulse, or boredom?
Buying secondhand clothing is also a fantastic environmental choice and great way to become a conscious consumer! Textile waste is a big contributor to pollution, and a surprising amount of clothing gets thrown away every year by large clothing manufacturers. Do your part to reduce waste by going to secondhand shops or doing wardrobe swaps with your friends.
Secondhand isn’t just great for clothing–eBay and Facebook Marketplace are incredible for sourcing secondhand furniture, appliances, toys, and so much more. Plus, you can save a huge amount of money.
The Plastic Problem
Plastic is a problem, and we all know it. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is about the size of Texas, and it isn’t getting any smaller. Again, it’s the big corporations who are making the decision to use cheap plastic, but that doesn’t mean you always have to deal with their wasteful nonsense.
Keep the following steps in mind to be a more conscious consumer:
- Stop buying drinks in plastic bottles. This one might take some self-control, but it’s one of the most important. Think of all the plastic cups or bottles you’ve used once and sent to their destiny in a landfill. Every one of us has probably done this a thousand times. If you switch to glass or bring your own metal bottle wherever you go, you’ll save hundreds upon hundreds of pieces of plastic in your lifetime.
- Cut out single-use plastic in the kitchen. Barbecues, picnics, parties: all are notorious for their cheap plastic utensils that get thrown away right after use. There is no need to use plastic when we have sustainable paper options available. If you have to do a lot of dishes after a party, so be it. Suck it up, as they say — but not in a plastic straw.
- Bring your own bags. Even if it goes against the norm, say no to the bushels of plastic bags in your local grocery store, home goods store, mall, and more. You simply don’t need these plastic bags, and all they do is accumulate waste. Carry a foldable bag in your purse and stash them in your car. It makes a difference!
- Ask yourself if there’s a sustainable alternative. You’re unlikely to find an appliance or vehicle without plastic, but in the case of items like kids’ toys, home decor, and the like, you can usually find a good alternative. Always choose the better alternative if you can afford it.
- Shop at bulk goods stores. Food packaging is a major plastic culprit. It’s hard to avoid, but try to bring your own reusable bags for produce and shop for dry goods with your own containers at bulk stores.
Keep Hunting For Sustainable Tips
Our final piece of advice for you is to do your research. The best way to stay on top of living a sustainable lifestyle is to keep up-to-date with all the new research that shows harmful activities to our bodies and environment.
Don’t stop searching for tips to be a more conscious consumer. Keep hunting for sustainable lifestyle tips because there’s so much more you can do to live sustainably. The tips above barely scratched the surface.