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Key Principles of Conscious Consumerism

Key Principles of Conscious Consumerism

KEY PRINCIPLES OF CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM: MAKING SMART, SUSTAINABLE CHOICES

Conscious consumerism not only benefits the environment but it can also benefit you as an individual, helping you live with more intention and consideration. In this guest article from Indiana Lee, we explore how mindful shopping and consumption can help us make smarter, more intentional choices.

Editor’s Note: As I’ve tried to become more intentional and aware of what I let into my life and what I keep out, I’ve been increasingly interested in how to use more eco-friendly and non-toxic products in my home. It’s not always possible or easy as there’s often a convenience and cost consideration but I love to learn more about their benefit to our physical health and the health of the planet. I hope you enjoy Indiana’s article which explains more about this and encourages more mindful shopping!

WHAT IS CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM?

The conscious consumer model is about shifting how you think about making purchases. Instead of basing purchase decisions on materialistic desires, it’s about considering the long-term impact of the product, such as how it impacts the world and the people in it. In other words, it’s about prioritising sustainability and ethical values when making a purchase.

Ethical consumption is a significant part of conscious consumerism. This means selecting products that support ethical values, such as cruelty-free, fair-trade, and fair labour practices. Conscious consumerism is also rooted in minimalism, as buying less, defining what’s truly important to you and living with what you need, rather than excess, is a critical part of reducing your environmental impact. 

Conscious Consumerism

WHAT ARE THE KEY PRINCIPLES OF CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM?

As mentioned above, conscious consumerism is about shifting your perspective when it comes to making purchases, which can be difficult to do when you already have ingrained habits. However, keeping the following key principles in mind every time you shop can help you slowly shift your habits to ones that are more in line with conscious consumerism.

1. Quality Over Quantity

Our society is heavily built on the idea that convenience is best. Because we live in such a fast-paced, chaotic world, we want things that make our lives a little easier. Unfortunately, this has led to people prioritising cheap, convenient products. The problem is that buying cheap often leads to buying more, which uses up resources and is wasteful.

To break this vicious cycle, it’s necessary to start prioritising quality over quantity and convenience, whenever our budget and financial situation allows. This might mean making more of an investment in a product upfront if we can afford it, but the product will last longer so you won’t have to keep purchasing the same thing over and over again. You may ultimately even save money in the long run. 

2. Mindfulness and Intention

Another key principle of conscious consumerism is being more thoughtful with your purchases. Instead of mindlessly purchasing things, take a moment to stop and think before you grab something off the shelf or click “add to cart.”

Another way of looking at it is being more intentional with your buying habits. A good way to start practicing this is by asking yourself why you are buying something, what purpose it serves, and if you actually need it. Perhaps you have something similar already, or could borrow it from a friend? Maybe even wait a couple of days to give yourself thinking time before you decide to go ahead with your purchase.

3. A Minimalist Approach

Less is always more when it comes to sustainability and minimalism helps the environment too. The media, marketing, and society as a whole have taught us that we need things to be happy, but this isn’t true or certainly the only markers of happiness. Buying a lot of things might bring you a temporary high, but it won’t impact your life positively in the long run. This isn’t to say you can’t treat yourself now and then, but overall, it’s important to find ways to be happier and content without just buying stuff you don’t need.

4. Appreciation and Gratitude

Another way to start shifting your mindset around purchases is to practice having more appreciation and gratitude. Appreciate and give thanks for what you already have, such as the items in your home, the roof over your head, and even what nature provides.

Finding ways to be more appreciative can help you feel more fulfilled, which means you won’t feel the need to buy things as often to make you feel better. Appreciating nature can also help you feel more connected to the land, which can then encourage you to live a more sustainable life to protect the environment.

Conscious Consumerism

ACTIONABLE TIPS FOR BECOMING A CONSCIOUS CONSUMER

In addition to the principles listed above to help you shift your mindset, here are some tips that can help you put conscious consumerism directly into action:

Do: Support Ethical and Sustainable Brands

Do your research and try to only buy from brands that are transparent about their ethical and sustainable practices. Thankfully, conscious consumerism is encouraging more and more brands to ‘go green’. Take the art and fashion industry, for example.

Brands in these industries are adopting a number of sustainable practices, including using more natural and recyclable materials, such as clothing made from recycled plastic, plant-based dyes, and using resilient materials that are more durable for longer-lasting clothes. The use of renewable energy sources is also helping brands become more sustainable, such as using solar power to cut down on energy consumption from operating processes.

Don’t: Buy What You Don’t Need

Avoiding impulse buying is key to becoming a conscious consumer. Every time you go to the store or shop online, try to keep from buying things you don’t need. This is especially important when shopping for clothes. Don’t buy clothes if you don’t need them and if you still really want a new outfit, try shopping second-hand at charity shops or thrift stores. Curating a capsule wardrobe is good for the environment and reduces waste too.

This also applies to food. Food waste is a huge problem in our society. To avoid this, try paring down your shopping list to only the things you really need. Also, avoid food items that come in excessive packaging. You can do this by purchasing more things that are fresh or that you can buy in bulk and take away in your own containers, like spices and grains.

Do: Prioritise Sustainable Products

It’s important to pay closer attention to the products you are buying. Look at labels and ingredients to check that your products are not only made sustainably and ethically but also have ingredients that are good for you.

Many products are made with harmful ingredients that are bad for the environment and bad for your health. When choosing personal care products, for example, avoid items made with phthalates, triclosan, sulfates, preservatives, synthetic fragrances, and dyes.

Instead, look for products with natural ingredients such as vitamin E in soaps and body washes, honey and coconut oil in lotions, and mineral-based sunscreens. This is true for other products as well, such as clothing items, household cleaning products, furniture, and electronics.

Start getting in the habit of researching what the items you are buying are made from and even how the raw materials are sourced to ensure the product is truly sustainable.

Don’t: Throw Things Out

Instead of only recycling, consider trying upcycling. Too many products end up as waste that is polluting the environment. So before tossing something out, consider if you might be able to give it a second life so it doesn’t just end up in the landfill. Old clothes, for example, can be cut up and turned into cleaning rags, old toothbrushes can be used for cleaning, and glass jars can be repurposed as storage containers or even as drinkware.

Conscious Consumerism

FINAL THOUGHTS

As a final note, another great way to become a conscious consumer is to spread awareness and encourage others to do the same. For conscious consumerism to be most effective, we need as many people participating as possible. So don’t just change your own habits, inspire and encourage others to change their habits as well. Getting your friends and family in on it can also help you hold each other accountable and ensure you are following through on your goals to live a more eco-conscious, sustainable life.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

I’d love to hear from you if you have any tips, comments or thoughts to share! Please leave a comment below!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Indiana Lee is a writer and avid reader from the Pacific Northwest. Committed to sustainability and environmental responsibility, she hopes to use her writing to advocate for positive change. Connect with her on LinkedIn.