How To Shop Consciously

Consumers increasingly want to support brands that embrace sustainability and purpose.

According to a McKinsey US consumer sentiment survey, 60 percent of respondents said they would pay more for a product that has sustainable packaging.

A study by NielsenIQ discovered 78 percent of US consumers consider leading a sustainable lifestyle incredibly important. As a consumer, you hold a lot of power and can harness your purchasing decisions to have a positive impact on the environment and people.

So, how can you be a more eco-conscious and responsible consumer? The first step is to think about what you buy. When you are in a store or browsing online, ask yourself whether you need the item. We’ve all been there before - had a bad day and need a bit of a boost.

However, most of the time, we act on impulse and do not need the things we purchase. A good practice for this, to determine whether you need the item, is to leave the store without buying the item.

Most of the time, an item you are about to buy will seem less attractive if you revisit it a day or two later. By slowing down, you will not only help the planet by using what you have but also save money and maintain a minimalistic home. Another way to engage in more responsible and mindful shopping is to buy locally.

Local businesses are the heart and soul of communities. Not only that, but a lot of the items in bigger stores have to travel thousands of miles to get there. By contrast, local businesses usually sell local products. For instance, food grown in season from nearby farms or garments they have made themselves.

Farmers’ markets are an excellent example of this. They offer fresh produce, unique homewares, and beautiful clothing pieces that do not have to travel by plane or boat to get to your area. Supporting local businesses also means supporting the local economy and community.

To be more eco-conscious, you should also prioritise quality over quantity. In other words, don’t just buy items because they are affordable but because they are well-made and will last. This is particularly relevant for the likes of clothing. Curating a wardrobe of high-quality garments will give you more satisfaction, save you money in the long run, and you won’t have to worry about replacing items when they are worn.

When shopping for new products, you should also keep in mind that cheap isn’t the only checkbox to look for. If we’ve learnt anything from fast fashion, cheap rarely means fair. You should also look at what the product is made of, who the brand is, and what is important to them to find out whether you should support them.

Conscious consumerism is all about making more ethical shopping decisions. These decisions should benefit you and the people involved in making the product and the world around you. Adding to that, try to avoid products that come in an excessive amount of packaging.

A majority of the time, this packaging is unnecessary. Bananas, for instance, are often sold in plastic packaging despite being protected by a peel. The same can be said for a lot of other fruits and vegetables. If you are a fan of online shopping, it can be hard to anticipate whether your order will arrive encased in a lot of packaging.

However, you can ask the brand about what they ship their products in to discover how seriously they take sustainability. The key to becoming a responsible shopper is adhering to circular principles. In the circular economy, we close the loop and find ways to keep resources alive.

Shopping secondhand, repairing, and engaging in upcycling are excellent ways to engage in circularity. With secondhand shopping, there is often the added benefit of supporting important causes. Think back to how our grandparents did when a product broke or was no longer usable. What did they do to avoid buying something brand new?

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