4 Habits You Need To Be A Conscious Consumer
Global warming. Carbon footprint. Sustainably sourced. We hear buzzwords like these all the time. They’re tossed around on social media, debated on the political stage and heatedly discussed at family get-togethers. But do you know what they really mean?
It’s easy to get distracted by the noise when you dive into the realm of the eco-conscious living and forget all about the heart of the matter, which is to live in a way that’s healthy for both you and the earth. In fact, a study in 2012 found that self-proclaimed “green” consumers and regular consumers had the same detrimental effect on the earth. So how can you avoid getting caught up in the chatter and truly become a conscious consumer?
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What Is a Conscious Consumer?
First things first, you have to know what a conscious consumer is and why it’s important to become one. To the latter part of the question, let some cold, hard facts provide the answer. While 75 percent of America’s waste is recyclable, we only recycle 30 percent of it, according to the EPA and DoSomething. A quick calculation will reveal there’s a 45 percent discrepancy there, and recycling is no unique process. It’s been around since the early 80s.
Quite simply, a conscious consumer wants to ensure that those stats decrease consistently. They want to make the earth healthier, so it lasts longer for future generations, and they care about the physical health of those generations, as well. But committing to recycling is the bare minimum you can do to become more conscious as a consumer.
How Can You Become More Conscious?
If you’re still confused by the cacophony of opinions surrounding sustainability and climate change, here are four steps you can take to join the fight as a champion of eco-friendly change.
1. Actively Work to Decrease Your Waste
You probably know that waste is a problem. For example, in 2014, Americans tossed $600 million worth of aluminum instead of recycling it. That gut-wrenching reality speaks to the lack of education, or perhaps the lack of understanding, surrounding the issue of conscious consumerism.
Start to spread the word about the problem with waste and take some simple steps to decrease your own. Begin by getting rid of anything disposable — recycle it when possible — and replacing it with something reusable such as shopping bags and water bottles. Try buying secondhand clothing and items or simply buying less. Look into composting your food waste and stay aware of how much food you’re wasting.
These small changes can yield a big impact.
2. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
You probably learned this simple mantra in your childhood, but it’s important to take it to heart as an adult. Now that you’re old and wise enough to comprehend the effect your actions have on the planet and your fellow human beings, it would be wrong to turn a blind eye. Commit to recycling everything, even when it’s inconvenient, and even if you live somewhere that doesn’t offer monetary perks for handing over bottles and cans. Reuse items whenever possible and only purchase new things when absolutely necessary. Work to reverse that American mentality of excess because minimalism is the best friend of a conscious consumer.
3. Shop Environmentally Friendly Retailers
When you can’t DIY or shop secondhand, choose to funnel your hard-earned dollars into retailers who care about sustainability and the environment. For example, purchase organic or vegan makeup which will help the world around you. Shop eco-friendly clothing brands that care about Mother Earth and use conscious materials such as hemp and organic cotton. In America’s capitalist economy, the power of supply and demand can drive real change, so don’t underestimate the power of the almighty dollar.
4. Put Your Time Where Your Money Is
Recycling and shopping for sustainable products are all well and good, but they’re only a piece of the larger puzzle. A truly motivated conscious consumer should actively seek out opportunities to change the policies in place that make it difficult to be eco-friendly. For example, volunteer for local organizations that clean up trash from your community or fight to keep pollution out of waterways. Attend rallies that support politicians who want to make the planet a healthier place. Educate yourself about the policies that are harming the environment, then give your local representatives a call to make sure they hear your voice. When we work to solve the root of the problem, it will only strengthen our efforts as consumers.
Commit to Change
It’s often overwhelming to think about how the earth has deteriorated rapidly, especially if you feel like you bear the entire weight of creating a change. Conscious consumerism isn’t about singlehandedly saving the planet. Just make small changes that decrease the negative effects you have on the earth and join forces with folks who are committed to doing the same. If everyone commits to just a few conscious tweaks, the impact will be enormous.
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