We live in a consumer society

(opinion article)

A conscious consumer, in a nutshell, is someone who looks beyond the label. They are people who want to know more about the company from which they buy their purchases. The importance of making informed consumer decisions has largely been provoked by environmental movements and the current condition of our planet.

The conscious consumers are shoppers who are increasingly choosing to make conscious buying decisions, by purchasing local, ethical and environmentally friendly products. They are more frequently picking out the companies to shop based on how environmentally or socially conscious they are.

Some businesses shy away from ‘green’ alternatives because they’re often more expensive. But recent research shows that people are still willing to pay a little more if they believe their purchase is making an environmental, ethical or sustainable impact.

Going shopping might be boring if you’re worried that your choices might impact the environment or the global community. Fortunately, you can still buy the items you need while protecting the earth’s resources.

  • Buy only the things that you need. You need items like food, clothing, and personal care products. Before you make a purchase, consider if you actually need that item or if it’s just something that would be nice to have.
  • Choose second-hand items whenever possible. Buying second-hand saves you money and helps the planet. Shop garage sales, thrift stores, consignment shops, and online resale websites to look for items you need.
  • Don’t buy items that you don’t need, even if they’re second-hand. Someone else might really need that item, so leave it for them to find.
  • Shop locally to reduce emissions and support your community. Buying local foods is usually better for your health and the environment because they don’t need to be shipped. These foods are typically grown seasonally and in their native environment. Additionally, buying items from local stores also supports your community and helps small businesses thrive.
  • Use reusable shopping bags to cut down on waste. Both plastic and paper shopping bags use the earth’s resources, so it’s best to avoid them if you can.
  • Pick items that have less packaging, so there’s less waste. The packaging that your products come in instantly becomes waste after you open the item.
  • Danone Canada has invested approximately $1 million to reduce packaging for its yogurt brands. The new packages eliminate the overwrapping that helped keep the yogurt cups together – a move that reduces the packaging by 25%. The change might seem small, but Pascal Lachance, sustainable development and environment manager for Danone, said, “It’s a project that comes with a lot of implications”.
  • Look for fair-trade or eco-friendly labels on the products you buy. Some products that are ethically sourced have labels to help you easily identify them. Typically, fair-trade means that a company pays fair prices to the producer of the goods. Eco-friendly means that the product was made in an environmentally sustainable way. Check products for these labels to help you make easy shopping decisions.
  • Use items until they’re used up or broken. Once you own an item, do your best to extend its life as long as possible. Keep your items until they wear out.

Being a mindful consumer means being aware of your actions and how they impact the planet, your community, and your family. This is a mindful consumer, changing your shopping habits, reflecting on your purchases, and dealing with waste mindfully.

We should start by taking small, baby steps and refraining from purchases unless really necessary.

We should remember the motto, “Changing habits – changing the world.”

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