In a time where the world is becoming increasingly exploited of its natural resources, it is becoming more and more important to bring some consciousness to personal consuming patterns. Understanding that your consumer choices either feed or starve large powerful corporations is integral. For a really in depth look at how corporations you regularly purchase goods from are effecting the environment and society, I recommend taking a look at a documentary called ‘The Corporation’. This may provide some insight into why we consume the way we do, and why this is so important to understand the link between goods and climate change.
So what can we do to become a more conscious consumer? This is the fun part! I have outlined my 5 tips below 🙂
- Buy Less
- Buy second hand
- Reduce plastic packaging
- Buy for the long-term
- Buy Ethically sourced goods
First and foremost I think it important to address the reason of consuming goods in the first place. Buying less is the most impactful choice you can make because you are effectively taking a small stance against our dominant consumer culture all together. This will save lots of money for those who love chasing the Jones’s. For some interesting resources on the idea of buying less and owning less, check out the below websites:
Mr. Money Moustache (more about building wealth and being ultra frugal)
Buy Second Hand
So if you have assessed your true need for a particular item and decide that you do wish to purchase, then I recommend doing your research into second hand items. This also cuts into our dominant consumer culture, as you are effectively recycling/saving an item from landfill and making good use out of it. Not only is this good for not contributing to our throw away society, but you promote local and community trading by bypassing the system. Not to mention it saves you money!
Reduce Plastic Packaging
I think this largely applies to the food we buy. Nearly all of it is covered in plastic, beginning a journey from our houses to our water systems. In the South Pacific Ocean there is a body of plastic the size of Texas, floating around and destroying ocean life. So you can choose to bring re-useable bags to the supermarkets to avoid plastic bags. Or bypass the major supermarkets altogether and source your produce from local markets and food co-ops, using glass jars to store your food. For a couple awesome websites on living with less waste and plastic, see the two below:
Buy For The Long-Term
When you can’t buy an item second hand, I suggest taking a frugal approach and looking for high quality goods. A huge issue with our current consumer society, is that corporations are so large, they can produce goods that are so cheap for the consumer. But they are mostly designed for short-term use in the hope that they can keep their turnovers incredibly high. Unfortunately the consumer does not pay the true cost for these items, and the developing countries that they were sourced from pay the biggest price in terms of cheap labour and environmental degradation. So look for items that are built to last. Purchase these items with the desire to keep them forever. This will be more expensive now, but much cheaper over the long haul. Quality is always better than quantity.
Buy Ethically Sourced Goods
To tie together the above tips, always looks for Ethical foods/products. Find items that come in recyclable or recycled packaging. In the food world, choosing Fair Trade and Organic is making a much more ethical choice and ensures you are supporting the livelihoods of farmers in developing countries. Organic cleaning products use less chemicals and are often packaged in reclaimed plastics. Good for the environment and your health. Purchase locally where possible. In all, just bring some thought to where the product was made, who produced it, what is in it, and how it got to you. All great things to ponder.
Obviously making these kinds of changes is a process, not something that happens over night. As long as you are making a conscious effort to address even one of the above suggestions, you are moving your life towards sustainability. If everyone just began consistently moving their life towards a sustainable future, we will achieve great results for future generations.
As an additional item to think about, moving away from meat and dairy products makes a massive difference in your contribution to carbon emissions and global warming. Agriculture is the largest contributor over and above fossil fuels. This is something I have not been able to achieve yet, and for those who struggle with this lifestyle choice, I am now moving towards game meats, as they are taken from the wild and do not require mass industrialisation and resources to produce. Kangaroo meat in Australia (apparently) efficiently manage population sizes so they never face extinction.