You shop local when possible, you look for organic, fair trade, and sustainably sourced items, and you want to make a difference in the way the world does business. Congratulations, you’re a conscious consumer!
Simply put, conscious consumption is the desire to be more responsible while shopping. Our current economy has made it easy to forget about the intensive labor, energy, and resources that go into the things we buy on a daily basis. By choosing to be a conscious consumer, you’re making a “conscious” decision to dig deeper and ask the tough questions.
At EarthHero, conscious consumption is possible (and easy!) because all we do is support and promote companies that are making a difference in this world, Mother-Earth approved.
How did we get here?
Let’s step back into the 1800’s. The Industrial Revolution took the world by storm–manufacturing products and making them more affordable and available to the public almost instantly. Initially, this was good! The overall quality and safety of people’s lives were (in a lot of ways) improved.
This, however, triggered the rise of mass consumption. Now, everyone had to have the best and newest item, because newer is better, right? Not quite. We live in a world where companies are continuously making “new and improved” models that persuade consumers into “needing” that next mainstream thing.
Thanks to years of continuous marketing of the more-is-better mentality, our society has transformed from truly valuing, protecting, and repairing our possessions, to the need for more, newer, and cheaper items. This constant routine of buying, tossing, and buying again has led to extreme amounts of waste and resources in landfills, as well as a slew of environmental issues such as deforestation, ozone depletion, water shortages, animal extinction, climate change, and soil nutrient loss. Our job as conscious consumers is to minimize and reverse the damage we’ve done, one step at a time.
Living in a Material World
Let’s face it–making mindless purchases has never been easier. So effortless, in fact, that websites have one-click ordering features. We live in a time where you simply ask your smart speaker to reorder that bottle of dish soap you’ve been putting off buying.
Sadly, it’s also easy to ignore the rest of the story. Where did it come from, and how did it get to your door? Was it shipped from a facility where exploitative working conditions are the norm? Does it contain hundreds of toxic chemicals you can’t even pronounce? Were limited resources extracted without a way to replenish them?
The fact of the matter is, many people look at price and convenience first, social impact second (or not at all). We don’t blame them! When we’re isolated from the true cost of the products we buy, it’s easy to forget–or simply, not know.
The True Cost of Consumerism
Everything has a price. Mass production has serious effects on the health of our environment, including greenhouse gas emissions, land and ocean pollution, ecosystem damages from resource extraction and deforestation. If that wasn’t bad enough, most consumers are unaware of the harmful working conditions associated with unfair labor, wages, and trade. To meet the extreme demands of modern-day consumers, many companies are over extracting non-renewable resources and destroying the planet for a quick buck.
Being a conscious consumer means taking all of these factors into consideration, instead choosing to spend their money in a way that creates positive social, environmental, and ecological change.
Now, becoming a conscious consumption guru isn’t going to happen overnight, but there are some practices you can incorporate into your everyday life to make a difference.
First off, do your research!
In this day and age, a simple Google search gets you millions of hits in under a second. Look into where your food and clothes come from, and then think about who and what your purchase supports. Every time you buy something, you’re investing and supporting that company and its practices. Search for which of your favorite companies are giving back to the community and planet, and support them with your dollar.
Want vs. Need
Another important aspect of conscious consumerism is recognizing a want vs. a need. I think we all can identify with the experience of going into the store for one thing and coming out with an entire cart full (oops!). Being mindful of purchasing only what you need (or really want) is not only better for the environment, but also easier on your wallet.
Quality over Quantity
Seek out items that are made to last, so you can have it for years to come! Try to invest in quality (when you can), take care of what you do have, and seek out ways to repair, rather than replace, your items. Not only does this save you money in the long run, but it saves landfills from unnecessary waste.
A Package is worth a Million Words
Finally, read the labels and pay attention to packaging. If the ingredient list on a beauty product is a mile long with unpronounceable chemical names (can you say “phthalates?”), it’s probably not too good for you or the environment. Seek out products with labels such as fair trade, sustainably harvested, and cruelty free. Look for items with reduced or, even better, no plastic packaging, especially at the grocery store. Shopping in bulk can be a quick and easy solution, as long as you remember your produce bags!
Check out these 4 questions you can ask to help you shop more sustainably!
EarthHero is Here to Help!
Consumption is inevitable. Even if you’re living off the grid, on a self-sustaining, solar powered farm (props if you are!), you’re going to have to buy things here and there. By being mindful about your purchases and actively working to educate yourself about better practices, you can transform your consumption into a healthier practice. We’re here to make that a little easier.
EarthHero doesn’t have all the answers, but we tell you everything we know and aim to make your sustainable shopping journey a little easier. Using the same convenience you’ve come to expect with modern day shopping, we provide a collection of products that are suited to the conscious consumer (AKA- you!). We label each item using our sustainability icons which tell you exactly what we love about each product. You can sort products and shop using your values, so it’s easy to find cruelty free, recycled, organic, fair trade products, and more! Don’t know where to start? Check out our 7 zero waste essentials!
We believe that by purchasing products that are aligned with your values, you also support businesses that are passionate about creating a healthier future. Bigger impact is possible when we come together as a community to stand for the environment. At EarthHero, all of your purchases support companies who produce products in a way that you can feel good about. So go ahead, you’re free to consume consciously!
About the author
Madilynn Martinson is an optimistic environmentalist with a passion for sustainable business and green marketing. When she’s not involved in the University of Colorado Environmental Center or the Colorado Ocean coalition, she can be found playing the piano, traveling, or scuba diving.