Conscious consumerism is gradually evolving from a rather exotic concept to a global trend for millions of individuals. That is some good news because as we already know consumers are the ones who drive change.
A recent survey carried out by the Global Web Index among consumers in the UK and the USA revealed a definite trend. 70% of the people surveyed believed that individuals are most responsible for the environment’s future, followed by 52% for the manufacturers, 50% for the national governments, and 34% for the international regulatory bodies.
Else said: most people nowadays believe that “The task of helping the drowning ones is in the hands of the drowning ones alone.” And most people are absolutely right.
So, how does individual responsibility manifest itself through shopping and consumer behaviour? The answer is: surprisingly easy. You can start making your personal impact today by asking yourself nine simple questions before spending money on any product you need.
1. Can I buy the item from a local retailer?
If a product is offered by a local merchant, then why purchase it from another city, another state, another country, or an overseas territory? Checking out regional opportunities for receiving the same stock will spare a lot of meaningless travelling back and forth. And guess what? That will immediately reduce the harmful emissions in our atmosphere.
That is how a few extra minutes of planning can turn into tangible consequences for the ecological preservation of our planet.
All it takes is the habit of checking out the surrounding supply chain.
2. Where does the item come from?
Suppose you failed to choose some relevant products and goods offered by local retailers. In that case, you shall probably switch to “embracing the lesser evil” mode. So – research your alternatives and determine a shipping location as close to you as possible.
Not good at geography? Picking the same continent is a good start. Then try making it excellent by selecting the same country. Or what about the neighbouring municipality for a flawless victory?
3. Is it made locally, or it comes from overseas?
Buying locally-made goods is another easy yet brilliant way to reduce the carbon footprint on our planet. As minor, as it may seem, the act of choosing products that hadn’t travelled the world to reach you is a great thing to do – especially if everyone decided to do it simultaneously and consistently.
Are you somehow puzzled about the main point? So here it is: demand determines supply. The less imported goods you tend to buy, the fewer imported goods will be delivered in the future. So it’s a win!
4. Who actually made it?
When it comes to doing business, being “green” is no longer an option – it is a must. According to the latest statistical data, about 90% of the consumers worldwide claim that they are more likely to trust a company that supports social and environmental issues. Are you still stuck somewhere in the other 10%?
Well, burst your balloon already. Research the brands you trust. See if they are making any effort to optimize their production methods, manufacturing processes, delivery and supply chains, packaging, and energy sources. Reward them if they do and leave them behind if they don’t seem to care. It is the best way to support good business practices and help them thrive.
5. Is it sustainable?
Next on the list, consider the nature of the product itself, if you hadn’t already. So, how to tell if any given goods that you’re about to buy are sustainable? Here are some fundamental characteristics to favour when choosing, according to Earth911.
- A sustainable product is made from renewable resources and/or recycled materials.
- It doesn’t do any direct harm to the environment: not its production, nor its distribution or consumption.
- The company guarantees socially responsible practices such as using ethically sourced labour.
- It is biodegradable to a very high degree, preferably 100%.
The more of these your product has, the better. Do you think that there are no such alternatives for the commodities you normally buy? We suppose you might be wrong. You just need to know what you’re looking for.
6. Is the brand transparent about its practices?
So, here is how things work: if a brand provides thorough information about their sustainable business practices, they obviously have some sustainable business practices to boastfully share with you.
As you may have already guessed, the absence of such information indicates one thing: there is nothing to be proud of.
How to use that simple truth smartly? Pretty simple: check out product labels, stock manuals, brand websites, social media, and advertising materials. They will give you all the information you need to make a conscious purchase and enjoy it with no regrets.
7. How long will it last?
One-time-use is a huge red flag, no matter the resources used for manufacturing the product. Of course, single-use plastic bags, ear sticks, straws, and cutlery are the usual suspects here. Thankfully, they are on their way to be fully banned in the months and years to come.
So, you can now think deeper and go way further in your efforts to choose lasting products with minimum ecological impact. This rule applies to virtually any type of goods – from household items to fashion objects, furniture, construction materials, consumer electronics, and even automobiles.
More good news – picking high-quality products with extended life expectancy is proven to be beneficial for both your long-term budget and the future of our planet.
8. Can I buy it second-hand?
There was once a prejudice for second-hand and thrift shopping as a thing poor people do because they can’t afford anything else. Nowadays, this one is, thankfully, slowly sinking into oblivion. While only 19% of boomers say that they would shop second-hand, 1 in every 3 Gen Z’s will gladly enjoy a retail fashion item.
What to do with that information? Probably try to find (or sell) your next favourite treasury by using one of the following simple-to-use alternatives:
- Local charity shops or second-hand stores;
- The eBay database with millions of used items in perfect condition;
- The Facebook Marketplace;
- Buy-and-sell groups on social media;
- Second-hand online fashion shops;
- … And all the other opportunities the 21st century has to offer.
Because reusing is not for the poor ones, it’s for the smart ones. And, of course, the ecologically conscious ones.
9. Do I need it at all?
So, here comes the final boss. At the end of the day, why make all these efforts for something you don’t actually need at all?
“To have or to be” is not merely a masterpiece by Erich Fromm. It is a fundamental question for our generation and probably the generations to come.
What’s more – “To have or to be” is painfully related to “To be or not to be” right now. So, what we’re trying to say is – let’s choose to be.
If you want to find more about how you can contribute to one more sustainable future, read our tips on how to save water.