There are lots of ways to be a more eco-conscious, socially conscious and ethical consumer. Whether you’re buying clothes, food, a car or a house, it’s important to make decisions that reflect your values. Conscious consumerism is about being mindful of the purchases you make. Instead of jumping into buying things you want or like, you can spend more time researching the brands and products to determine if they are sustainable and ethical.
As a consumer, you have more power than you might think to take steps to be socially conscious and eco-conscious. Conscious consumers are aware of the impact their purchases have on themselves, their communities, and the environment. Here are some ways that you can be a more socially conscious and eco-conscious consumer:
- Reduce excessive spending
- Buy from small businesses that upcycle or repurpose clothing
- Buy longer lasting clothing
- Sell or donate your clothes to make room for new clothes
- Shop local and support small businesses
- Research brands that support social causes and sustainable production
- Avoid buying items that use sweatshop labor
- Reduce your waste by recycling or composting
- Learn to repair your own clothes or hire someone to mend them
- Reduce your carbon footprint
1. Reduce excessive spending
A conscious consumer will reduce their spending to avoid over consumption. It might sound counterintuitive, but excessive spending can lead to more waste than you might imagine. This is because when people spend money frequently, they may buy items that they don't need or won't use and throw them away when the item stops being trendy. This leads to a lot of unnecessary waste. But by taking the time to really think about what you are buying, you'll be able to avoid this kind of unsustainable behavior. For example, if you're considering buying a shirt from a brand that doesn't support ethical production, then it's worth looking elsewhere for your clothing needs.
2. Buy from small businesses that sell upcycled or secondhand clothing
When you buy from small businesses that upcycle or repurpose clothing, you're helping to keep clothes out of the landfill. Part of being a conscious consumer is making sure that your purchases don't contribute to the problem of overproduction and waste. You can find these types of clothing from various designers who specialize in reusing materials at the online marketplace RE.STATEMENT.
In the United States, we spend $28 billion on clothes every year and most people only wear around 20 percent of what they own. This is why it's important to avoid shopping at fast fashion stores like H&M or Forever 21 and instead look for clothes made by small businesses that upcycle or repurpose. When you buy secondhand clothes, you're also supporting local business owners and helping stimulate the economy.
3. Buy longer lasting clothing
Buying clothes that are durable and can be mended over time generally means you’ll spend less money in the long run.
This is a great way to reduce your impact on the environment as it decreases consumption and waste. You could also buy clothing from small businesses that upcycle or repurpose clothing. This also helps to reduce your environmental impact and allows you to support a local business!
4. Sell or donate your clothes to make room for new clothes
Sell or donate your clothes to make room for new clothes. It’s hard to buy out of season clothes, but it’s even harder to make space in your closet for those items. If you have some things you don’t wear anymore, try selling or donating them to make room for new clothes.
5. Shop local and support small businesses
Supporting small businesses is a great way to be socially conscious and eco-conscious. Small businesses make it easier to know who made your clothes, what they used, and where the materials came from. That’s because you can talk with the person or people who made your clothes. You don’t get that opportunity with manufacturing overseas.
6. Research brands that support social causes and sustainable production
It’s important to research the brands that you buy from. Some companies have a social mission and are committed to sustainable production. Brands like Patagonia and TOMS make it easy to identify their sustainable initiatives by displaying it on their websites, catalogs, and other marketing materials. If you want to find new ethical companies, you can check out the directory of B Corp companies, which are certified companies that meet high standards for supporting social and environmental benefits.
7. Avoid buying items that use sweatshop labor
It can be hard to avoid buying items that use sweatshop labor, but there are a few things that conscious consumers can do to avoid supporting companies with unethical practices.
First, it's important to research the brands you buy from. If you're buying clothes, for example, and have the option of two very similar clothes at different prices, make sure you find out why the difference in price exists. It might be because one company uses sweatshop labor while the other doesn't.
Next, it's important to know where your clothing comes from. A lot of companies will indicate if they use ethical labor on their tags or labels. If they don't offer this information, call them and ask where they produce their items.
Finally - it’s worth noting that many brands today are committed to ethical production standards and some even offer a guarantee against sweatshop labor in their factories. So if you find a brand that aligns with your values and is in line with what you're looking for, try buying from them.
8. Reduce your waste by recycling or composting
Since the materials in our trash pile up, it's time to start thinking about ways we can reduce our waste. A lot of people don't know that recycling or composting are two great ways to help reduce your waste.
Recycling is a great way to cut down on all of the trash in landfills, but not everyone recycles. In fact, only 26% of households recycle their plastic bottles and jars, which are both recyclable. This means that the majority of these items end up in a landfill or incinerator and will never break down.
The next time you're going out for drinks, try bringing your own reusable cup for refills. If you forget your reusable cup and order a drink with a straw before you realize it, simply request no straw when they hand you the drink. Your straw wrapper can go into your compost instead of the trash!
9. Learn to repair your own clothes or hire someone to mend them
Learn to repair your own clothes or hire someone to mend them. You may be surprised how many people enjoy this as a hobby. It can be a great way to make some money on the side, and it's also a good skill to have.
10. Reduce your carbon footprint
A major way to be a more eco-conscious consumer is to reduce your carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is calculated by looking at how much CO2 emissions you produce in a year. Reducing your carbon footprint means that you are aware of how your lifestyle impacts the environment. You can do this by reducing your consumption, walking or biking instead of driving, and recycling.
You can also look into offsetting your carbon emission usage by looking into purchasing carbon credits for the estimated amount of carbon you use each year.