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How to be a conscious consumer

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

Earth overshoot day - marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. This date for the year 2021 falls on July 29th. With the lifestyle we all are currently following, this date will get closer and closer to the beginning of a year. [https://www.overshootday.org/about/]


Doesn’t that sound scary?



This graph marks the earth overshoot day by comparing earth resource demand within the biocapacity vs resource demand that exceeds earth's biocapacity.

Given the massive overuse of earth’s resources on a yearly basis, the only way out of this cycle is to ensure that we have a healthy planet which can sustain our needs now and in the future (sustainable development). This can only be achieved if we reduce our consumption, reduce our wants and decrease our demands. We need to change the way we choose the things we buy. Just like how we look after healthier alternatives to put in our body, we need to look at sustainable alternatives to save earth.



We need to become conscious consumers.



What if I tell you there is an easy way to do this? Everyday by changing small habits, we can bring in a world of difference. Want to know how? Keep reading!



BE INFORMED. LEARN TO QUESTION

We often aren’t given information about the products we buy. Is my product sustainably sourced? Is my product made in clean and ethical conditions? Who are the people working in the making of my product? What are the various methods to dispose of my product safely without harming the environment?


This brings us to the first step of being conscious consumers. That is, to be informed about your choices. Choices then go on to become actions and actions become habits! We need to learn to choose and purchase from companies who are committed to offer sustainable products and services, have a clean and ethical production, and constantly engage and develop local communities. We also need to learn to question these brands about their working. At Emacity, we pride ourselves in the fact that we source our raw materials and/or produce our products in ways that are organic, fair-trade and eco-friendly with certifications or with close collaborations with our suppliers to ensure that our claims of sustainability are credible and reliable. We do all of this in the vein of becoming a company that is the sustainable alternative to products/services that are mainstream (produced in mass and generally unsustainably) or otherwise. Check out our shop to support us and our cause in the bid to protect our environment.


TAKE SMALL STEPS:


If you’re ever wondering how one person’s actions can contribute towards saving the world, then do some math! If you use one single-use coffee cup everyday, it adds up to 365 cups a year.


That is a significant number of cups! Now if you can switch this single use cup with a reusable cup, you will be using 1 (min) to 3 (max) cups a year! Doesn’t that sound like a better alternative? We need to find ways through which we can reduce waste by reusing our products.


Not just through a sustainable kitchen, but we need to move this step to every part of the house in every household. How you may ask? Let’s find out together!

  • Building an ethical closet plays a big role in this change. Using clothes made from natural fibres and natural dyes (also made under ethical circumstances) are more breathable, easier to care for and much better for the environment and the people making it. It may also help to have a capsule wardrobe to reduce unnecessarily buying more and more pieces of clothing. Learn more about the techniques to switch to slow fashion from our article on “Fast fashion v Slow Fashion …

  • Buying from the local market rather than exporting products from different parts of the world not just reduces emissions associated with transportation and packaging but also promotes the local economy and supports small and upcoming businesses.

  • Opting for vegan, cruelty-free, homemade products not just protects your body from harmful ingredients that can cause allergies, health diseases and in rare cases even cancer but it can also help in lowering the pollution in water bodies and obviously saving animals which are confined in cages, terrible conditions and some even suffer to death by intense testing.


These seem like a few things which all of us can do daily, right? But again, we’re talking about reducing our consumption rather than buying more products. So how do we go about that?


BUYERARCHY OF NEEDS:

Ever heard of the buyerarchy of needs? This is a structure which influences your choices and behaviors but in a purchase environment. It looks at buying as the last level after all other areas above it have been tried and tested.These are all some things we have come across in our day to day lives. But how often do we implement these? That’s a question for you to think over after reading this!


Using what we already have in our homes is the best option.

Want new clothes? Steal it from your siblings/parents/friends cupboard! (Just kidding, please don’t steal from others!) Borrowing is the most convenient way of using something without making a hole in your pocket. Swapping and thrifting can be a better alternative for reducing the production of new products.


As tricky as it sounds, only when you have explored all other options do you go down the making and buying area. (I have included making in this category because it still involves some amount of purchase/new resource consumption). Following this buyerarchy of needs is an easy way to fight the temptation to make unnecessary purchases and it costs you close to nothing!



Much like the Maslow's pyramid, there is a pyramid adapted to help explain how a conscious consumer can buy clothes based on the 'buyerarchy of needs'
Buyerarchy of Needs. Photo credit: Sarah Lazarovic

Still not able to stop yourself from adding unnecessary things to the cart? Try out these techniques:

  • Remove or disconnect all payment options from the various websites you shop from. Entering manually every single time will get annoying very soon! Unsubscribe from retail mailers, and most importantly DO NOT fall for discount weeks and sales from fast fashion stores.

  • Examine your spending patterns. Do you shop on the weekends? Do a phone-free weekend spree! Do you shop before sleeping? Keep your phone in another room while going to sleep!

  • Try out challenges every month to make it more interesting. 30-day no shopping challenge, building a capsule wardrobe, Using only 10 pairs of clothes for a month, zero waste living for a week, 7-day no spend challenge! Like I said, small actions can become habits. And why not make some money while you declutter your house! Sell your clothes and other products and let someone else make good use of it!



CRITICISM OF THE CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM MOVEMENT:

The fact of the matter and the most unavoidable point is that sustainable products are more expensive than their counterparts. In some circumstances they are even considered as “premium goods” for some sections of the societies. But the bigger issue is that communities do not have an option to voice out their needs because they don't have an option to vote with their money for sustainability. Hence they are left out from opting for better-for-the-world alternatives due to cost constraints.

The issue of inaccessibility of healthier and ethical products should come to an end because choosing products which are safe and healthy for the environment as well as for ourselves shouldn't be a choice. It should be a necessity. If more people voice their demands for organic, ethical and fair trade products then the more commonplace they will be, and the cheaper they will become. By which they become more and more accessible to everyone.

Some critics also point out that certain shoppers buy organic or green products to stamp out their guilt rather than doing it with the motive of saving and protecting the environment. This is absolutely fine! Everyone has different motives and visions and it necessarily doesn’t have to align with other people's motives. The result through these motives will still be the same!


So lastly ask yourself this - Is becoming a conscious consumer easy? For some yes and for some no. But will it be worth it in the long run? Hell yes!


If you liked this article, then hit the like button below and share it to all your friends and family so that you can let them know about how to bring about the much-needed change to save our world in our own way.





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