Our mission is to inspire people to move away from mindless consumption to make more conscious decisions. But what does that actually mean, and why is it important? In this article we cover:
- What is conscious consumerism?
- Benefits of conscious consumerism
- How brands can drive sustainable behaviours
- How to be a more conscious consumer
Conscious consumerism, sometimes called ethical consumerism or green consumerism, means consumers deliberately making purchasing decisions that they believe have a positive social, economic, and environmental impact.
In short, it means shopping with sustainably in mind. This can cover either buying a specific product or choosing not to buy anything at all, both are conscious decisions.
An unlikely example is billionaire investor Warren Buffet, one of the richest men of all time. Despite his wealth, he still lives in the same house he bought 50 years ago and drives a modest Cadillac, telling Forbes “I only drive about 3,500 miles a year so I will buy a new car very infrequently.”
Tip: keeping an old car going is much better for the environment than buying a new one
Similar to consumer activism, conscious consumerism is a way that individuals can exercise their power as consumers to positively impact the world. Without putting too fine a point on it, human consumption is currently unsustainable if we want to preserve our planet for future generations. By choosing to buy products that are produced sustainably, we reduce our environmental footprints and ensure the fair treatment of other humans.
As individuals, far removed from the origins of the products we buy in stores or online, it can be difficult to visualise how conscious consumerism makes a difference, but it does. First of all, you’re buying a better product for people and the environment and that’s never a bad thing. The money you spend is going to the ‘good guys’, so to speak, helping further the development of more sustainable products and practices. Secondly, markets react to consumer demands.
Whilst sustainable products may seem like a minority when compared to the overall size of the market, they are gaining ground—the comparative rise in the popularity of organic vs non-organic food for example, or electric vehicles vs petrol or diesel. Their burgeoning popularity is a wakeup call to unsustainable producers who see their market share reduced, want to get in on the next innovation, and attract employees. This does, unfortunately, lead to some greenwashing, but that’s just something we’ll have to look out for.
Then there is the power of performative action. Turns out ‘going green’ is catching. For example, studies have shown that installing solar panels means your neighbours are much more likely to as well, and it’s a similar story with recycling. After all, actions speak louder than words.
Some studies have suggested that solar panels are more catching than smoking
Lastly, in general, being a little more conscious with your purchasing decisions will give you access to better value products. If a product is truly designed with sustainability in mind, then it will be designed to last for as long a possible, which means good quality and lifetime value. Also, if the product is part of a circularity programme, then there may be a discount for recycling the product through the manufacturer.
Of course, for consumers to be able to make conscious purchasing decisions they need to be told about the impacts of their consumption. Not green-shamed, but informed. Then, they need to be given the option to consume more sustainably, ideally without impacting too much on price and convenience. Companies have to be transparent and provide data about how their products are produced.
Let’s take our circular mobile case as an example of a product we know is produced sustainably (we did design it after all). We make them from the byproduct of organic linseed farming, material that would otherwise go to waste. With the help of some experts local to the farm, we process it into a mobile case that can be either returned safely to nature or recycled multiple times into a new mobile case. This way waste is designed out of the system, a model called circularity. As an incentive, we offer a discount on the next purchase.
The cases still do their job as well, if not better, than others but with a reduced environmental impact than their plastic counterparts, for example.
Sustainable consumption can be helped through a combination of brand and consumer action. It’s important to note, however, that we’re not going to buy our way out of the environmental crisis, but conscious consumerism is part of the movement towards sustainability that we all must take. You can be a more conscious consumer by:
- Reducing the amount of products you buy, maybe even try minimalism
- When researching what products to buy, consider the environmental and social impact across it’s whole lifecycle. We know this can be tough and requires some extra effort, but the best brands make it easy and once you know, you know.
- Before recycling, think if you can repurpose or reused first.
- Try going vegetarian or vegan, at least some of the time, and buy local and organic food if possible
- Walk, cycle or use public transport instead of driving
- Switch to a renewable energy supplier
- Cut out the single-use
- Purchase carbon offsets to reduce or cancel out your carbon footprint.
Now we’ve convinced you that being a conscious consumer is beneficial to both people and the environment, we’ll let you know some other ways you can help the environmental movement. Other necessary actions are:
- Exercising your political right to vote, no vote is wasted!
- Support organisations that are fighting for the rights of people and the environment
- Join a local community group, go clean up a beach or plant trees. Projects where you can see yourself actively make a change. It’s amazing to see your actions make an immediate impact.
Thanks for reading! Have anything to add, did we miss anything? Les us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.