15 Steps Towards Conscious Consumerism
The term conscious consumerism is cropping up everywhere. It's a buzz term, but what does it mean? A conscious consumer in simple terms is a consumer (purchaser of goods or services) that considers the social, economic, environmental impact and / or other factors before deciding on a purchase. The term ethical consumer runs along similar lines.
Straight to the point - Nomad Genie is a profit making company. We don't profess to be zero waste, heroes of any kind, or even completely against plastic (although we hate single-use plastic). With that said, we do not encourage purchasing any one of our products (or anyone else's) if you have something that does the job already. We also have some great tips for becoming a more conscious and ethical consumer, listed below:
Example 1: Three months ago you bought a multi-pack of plastic toothbrushes and still have three left. We don't encourage you to buy a bamboo toothbrush until you have used all of your plastic toothbrushes and have a genuine need for another.
Example 2: You have a cupboard full of durable Tupperware plastic containers to house all your loose items of food and suchlike. We don't promote the idea of buying 50 glass containers to replace the plastic ones until they need replacing. You see, this is actually increasing waste - not reducing it.
Zero waste and eco-friendly 'warriors' run the risk of alienating the average person that wants to make their first steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle. It shouldn't be frowned upon to bring durable plastic containers to a 'zero-waste' shop if that's what you already own - Nomad Genie
15 Tips for Conscious (Ethical) Consumerism
1. Before buying new clothes check your wardrobes and linen baskets thoroughly. There may be something you forgot about or can repair / clean to give it a longer lifespan. Most of us wear just 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.
2. Buy and sell secondhand - it isn't cheap to buy or sell secondhand, it is responsible and can be a lot of fun. You could even meet new friends in your local community doing so.
3. Check if companies are genuinely giving back. Some unscrupulous companies may promise to donate 10% of all profits to XYZ charity but it is in fact funding executive salaries. Look for transparency.
4. Buy quality. Easier said than done but look for companies that provide guarantees, have positive reviews and are not necessarily the cheapest around. 'Buy cheap you buy twice' is a common phrase - it is usually true.
5. Online shopping can be just as sustainable as driving to the City Centre but think about your purchases. Can you combine orders so you are not ordering just one small product online and can you get the product from the country you are in. If you live in the UK it doesn't make sense to order from an Australian online shop if a like for like product is available from a seller in the same country.
6. Check the packaging that your online seller will use. Reward the sellers that use eco-friendly packaging such as recycled paper and avoid plastic, bubble wrap, Styrofoam etc with a positive review. Provide feedback to those that don't so they can improve for the future. This is an education for most people.
7. Recycle. Whatever it is, think carefully about whether you can give the product or packaging you are about to throw away a new lease of life or a new home.
8. What is it made from? As mentioned, we are not anti plastic per se but we despise single use plastics. Bamboo and steel are both examples of sustainable and durable alternatives to single use plastics in many cases. Think metal straws, bamboo toothbrushes, containers & more. Cut out the single-use plastic - it's actually pretty easy - and start today because many governments are banning single-use plastics and rightly so!
9. Create a shopping list. This will encourage you to buy only the things you need rather than the things you impulse buy.
10. If you are passionate about a conscious lifestyle then take your reusable straws, tote bag or whatever it is with you wherever you go - not just to impress your friends at the local 'zero waste' store.
11. We have focused on product specifically as that's what we know best. However, there's expert advice to suggest that changing your diet and food / drink purchasing habits can have a lasting positive impact.
12. Compost - if you have a small space in your garden why not turn it into a compost heap? If you have a small amount of food that has gone past its use by date or compostable material such as bamboo then composting is a great habit to get into - it's also great fun educating and engaging children in sustainable habits.
13. Have your groceries delivered. How does that help? Instead of 50 people going to the supermarket in 50 different cars the supermarket will send one delivery van and deliver to you all in one swoop. Yes, we know sometimes you'll get some carrots that have two less days to use than you expected, but generally online food shopping is very good.
14. Cleaning products are an often overlooked aspect of conscious consumerism but they are a vital one. Use natural cleaning products wherever possible. Everything you use ends up in the atmosphere, in your lungs, on your skin.
15. Give gifts that people will actually use. This applies to all of us. As an example, before buying a friend's newborn baby a pile of stuff the parents already own - ask them what would be most useful to them going forward. If you are the recipient.
Handy Terms For Ethical & Conscious Consumers
- Organic - Produced without the use of artificial agents
- Sustainable - Able to be maintained
- Fair Trade - Designed to help traders in developing countries
- Plastic Free - Products that contain zero plastic
- Charitable - The assistance of those in need
- Socially Responsible - Acting in a way that will benefit society as a whole
- Zero Waste - The reuse of all products and elimination of products to landfill
- Ethical - Moral principles