The everyday activist…
Consuming less is great! The next best thing is consuming responsibly. This can be a bit tricky because there are a lot of misconceptions out there, but I’m going to give you some tips and resources to make it a whole lot easier.
For the conscious consumer there are a lot of variables that factor into buying decisions. Here are a few examples:
- Are the ingredients sustainably sourced?
- How far did it travel to get here?
- Can it be re-used or recycled when I’m finished with it?
- What’s up with this packaging?
There are hundreds of variables that contribute to the sustainability of a product and everyone has their own bias about certain aspects. When shopping for personal products like body wash, one person may be highly conscious about animal testing while another is more concerned with microplastics.
Don’t worry: You don’t have to know everything to influence change.
Which cause you care about isn’t as important as how you act on those concerns. The key to having a positive impact is keeping yourself educated about the topics you’re most concerned about and doing your best to buy products that align with your values.
There are many areas of consumer goods that need to be transformed and while it would be nice to consider all factors of a product’s sustainability, it just isn’t practical for everyday citizens to do that. So to start, keep it simple –
Habit #3: Find something you care about and factor that into your shopping decisions.
Already doing this? Super. Here’s what you can do: Jump to advanced tip
If you’re just getting started as a conscious consumer, thank you for making a commitment to changing for the better.
As long as you’re making conscious decisions about what product to buy based on your values you’re redirecting the money you spend which will influence the market. Rather than wearing yourself out by trying to dissect every last aspect of a product and find the greenest one, start with one thing you’re passionate about and expand from there.
A few examples:
- Passionate about worker’s rights? Look for the Fair Trade seal of approval on products like tea, coffee, and bananas.
- Care deeply about the rainforest or chimps? Steer clear of products with palm oil in them.
- Worried about climate change? Buy local produce.
- Concerned about overfishing? Buy sustainably sourced seafood.
There are a lot of tools out there to make shopping smarter easier. I’ll cover a few of the biggies throughout future tips.
No matter what your specific cause is, there are a few guidelines everyone can follow that will significantly reduce the environmental impact of their consumption. I’ll highlight a few of those in the next tip.
Your Action Item:
Think about your regular shopping habits and choose one area to improve. Just one. You can always expand to more later.
Check out the resources section if you need a place to start, or reach out to me with any specific questions.
An easy way to identify sustainable product attributes, and possibly the easiest starting point for beginners, is to look for eco labels. More to come on that soon…
For the experienced conscious consumer:
If you’re already shopping local, buying fair trade, and supporting responsible brands please:
- Let me know how you’ve incorporated these values into your routine so I can learn and share with the group.
- Run a quick self assessment. Is there an area where you can improve? If so, set a goal for yourself to improve an area of your regular shopping routine where you can.
Hey, are you new here? Get up to speed and stay up:
<< #2 Consume Less
#4 Know Your Eco Labels >>
How to avoid products with palm oil:
The WWF has a great guide to help you understand which everyday products contain palm oil so you can avoid them.
Say No To Palm Oil has a 28 day challenge that serves as a great recipe and brand guide that will make reducing your palm oil consumption much easier.
Apps to make conscious shopping easier:
Buycott is an app that makes it easy to support or boycott specific campaigns when you shop. For example, if you’re against products with GMOs, you can follow the non-GMO campaign and find out which products align with your values. You can boycott things like child labor, whole brands like Nestle, or even “Trump products”. Give it a shot.
Think Dirty is an app and website that helps women identify safe beauty and personal products by making product and brand research really easy. Not sure about a cosmetic product? Look it up with Think Dirty.