30.03.17

Taking Small Steps Towards Conscious Consumerism

Kira Simpson

Conscious consumerism, a bit of an ethical conundrum isn’t it?

On one hand, consuming less or nothing at all is really what’s best to repair the damage we’ve done to our fragile planet. On the other hand, unless you’re a bush dwelling nudist living solely off the land, you’re going to consume “stuff” every day, almost unconsciously.

So what do we do?

We need to change the way we choose the things we buy, just as we have changed the way we choose the food we consume. The shift towards eating real food almost had it easy in terms of change – humans intrinsically know that we get out of our bodies what we put in, and putting in good stuff is simply better for you. We can see the difference it makes.

It’s not so easy when it comes to things.

 

conscious consumerism

We often aren’t told where our purchases are made, whether the material has been sustainably sourced, what conditions the people who made it work in, what happens in the environment when we wash or dispose of it.

Being informed is the first step to making better choices.

Choices become habits and habits become behaviour. Changing our behaviour and the way we think about what we consume are the first things we can do to minimise harm to the world we live in.

Want to make a change but not sure where to start?

ASSESS THE BRANDS IN YOUR LIFE

    • Find out where your stuff comes from, how they’re made, what they’re made of
    • Ask the brands directly, who made my clothes?
    • Use ethical shopping resources to check if your favourite brand is trying to be more sustainable

CHOOSE FAIR TRADE, ORGANIC AND LOCALLY MADE BY LOOKING AT LABELS

    • Organic tends to mean fewer or no chemicals for workers and the environment
    • Fair-Trade means the artisans work is values and they are being paid fairly
    • Locally made means fewer miles to travel and you’re supporting a local business
    • Ethical fashion and sustainable fashion mean somethign different to each of us so do your research and find brands that fit with your values

MINIMISE HOW MUCH YOU BUY

    • Invest in quality and pieces you’ll wear all the time or for a long time
    • Stop treating clothing as disposable and learn to take care of what you have
    • Only buy something new to replace something that can no longer be worn or to fill a gap in your wardrobe

BUY AND SELL SECOND HAND

    • Sell your unwanted clothes at markets or Ebay and use the money you make to buy “new” pre-loved clothing
    • Learn to op-shop like a pro and bag some amazing bargains

LOOK FOR COMPANIES THAT GIVE BACK SUCH AS SOCIAL ENTERPRISES

  • Like charities, the primary purpose of a social enterprise is to make improvements in human and environmental well-being. Unlike charities, a social enterprise does not rely on donations to keep them running. Most social enterprises look and operate just like a traditional for-profit businesses. The key difference is, the social entrepreneurs behind these businesses provide financial, educational or community support using the profits from the sale of their products.

Image source: Unsplash

Kira Simpson

Founder + Director of The Green Hub, an urban green living advocate and coffee obsessive. She believes there is no one size fits all green lifestyle and we can all live more sustainably in a way that fits in with each of our unique lifestyles.