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Tips for Becoming a Conscious Consumer

July 22, 2022

by carolyn mitchell, guest contributor

Reducing your environmental footprint can seem like a monumental task - so unachievable, in fact, that many of us struggle to make any progress at all. But when changing your habits or adjusting your lifestyle, it’s often best to start small in order to make achievable changes–especially when you’d like these changes to have a lasting impact on you and your surrounding world. If you don’t know where to begin on your eco-friendly journey, look to the lifestyle of our environmental experts. They’re all united by one skill - they are conscious about what they purchase, consume, and how much waste these products produce. 

Whether you call them responsible shoppers, conscious consumers, or eco-warriors, it all comes down to making conscious choices behind the products you choose to consume. And while it might not be easy at first, soon it will become second nature. After all, even the most responsible shoppers didn’t start out that way. 

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide so that you can begin to make environmentally-friendly choices about your consumption of resources and production of waste. The best part? They’re surprisingly easy to make.

What is Conscious Consumerism?

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In today’s society, it can be easy to want to buy new things all the time. With so many options available, we become used to the idea that the goods we consume are disposable. That strategy not only affects our wallets, but our environment, too. The impact doesn’t just stop at your money and how you use the product. There is much that happens between manufacturing a product to it finding its way onto store shelves, and later what happens to it at the end of its lifecycle. 

How Do I Become a Conscious Consumer?

Shopping sustainably and being a responsible shopper may not come naturally right away. That’s ok - there are a number of places to begin when looking to minimize the impact your consumerism has on the environment. From looking for Fair Trade items to opting for products that are zero waste, you can implement many small changes to your shopping habits to reduce your environmental footprint.

Choose Fair Trade

Choosing products that are Fair Trade has a number of positive impacts on the environment. Mainly, Fair Trade Standards enforce a minimum level of environmental protection, therefore reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and making sure that manufacturing processes cause little soil and water harm. There are social impacts, too, Fair Trade products ensure that products promote sustainable livelihoods and safe working conditions.

To determine if a product is Fairtrade, look for the ‘Fairtrade Certified’ logo on the packaging. If you aren’t sure, a quick internet search or call to a company’s customer service team should help.

Look for Cruelty-Free Products

You can also sustainably shop for personal hygiene products. One of the easiest ways to do so is by looking for a ‘Cruelty-Free’ certification like Leaping Bunny. Most natural makeup, cosmetics, and hygiene products are made with natural ingredients and fewer synthetic chemicals than non-cruelty-free products. This is great for the environment, it means that fewer toxic chemicals are released into waterways, soil, and the air. It also means that fewer carbon emissions are being produced to make these chemicals, both in terms of raw material and energy, too.

Choose Non-Toxic

Even if a product doesn’t have a widely recognized certification, it can still be good for the planet, especially if it uses non-toxic, natural ingredients. When shopping consciously, you’ll want to take a look at the packaging before you buy. Take a look at the ingredients on the products you’d like to purchase and ask yourself if you recognize them. If you don’t, toxic chemicals were likely used in its production.

Instead, opt for non-toxic cleaning products and other supplies that have naturally produced ingredients you can trust. Another added benefit? It’s likely safer for your kids and pets, too.

Opt for Reusable

It’s also important to think about the lifecycle of your products, which means how you might dispose of them in the future. When buying a product, take a look at how much plastic packaging it has. After all, less packaging equals less waste, and less waste means less toxic ingredients that might end up in our landfills.

It’s also worth it, economically, to invest in reusable items. Not only do they last a long time, but they’re better for the environment, too! You’ll find that in today’s consumer landscape, it isn’t too difficult to find an eco-friendly or reusable version of your go-to favorites. From sustainable eyeglasses to eco-friendly notebooks, there are likely plenty of products on your store shelves to choose from.

Bring Your Own Bags

Becoming more eco-friendly is all about swapping your everyday habits with more eco-friendly alternatives. It might seem like a simple change, but it can make a big impact! Choosing to bring your own containers and bags is one small switch that can make a big difference. Materials like styrofoam for your takeout or plastic grocery bags for your food can last in landfills for years, potentially leaking toxic chemicals into our environment, too.

It’s a good idea to keep a handful of reusable grocery bags and some small containers on hand to reduce unnecessary waste. That way, even when things get busy, you can always have some on hand in case you ever need them.

The Takeaway

Responsible shopping can make a powerful difference in your life and the impact you have on the environment. You’ll be able to reduce harmful emissions, prevent waste from entering the landfills, and support practices and businesses that safeguard the health of you and the planet. We encourage you to take the next step in your environmental journey today.

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