What is Conscious Consumerism?
Since the dawn of modern civilization, human beings have never had as many choices when it comes to products and services like we have today. Conscious consumerism often referred to as ‘ethical consumerism’ is to make purchase decisions that have positive impacts on the environment, society and economy. An individual is a conscious consumer when he/she factors in the composition, packaging and end-of-life processing of the product in addition to the price of the product.
Why are consumers changing their consumption patterns?
The most significant reason for a shift in purchasing patterns is health. Now more than ever consumers are conscious of what they are exposed to. Given the large research capabilities, access to information and influences via social media, consumers today understand synthetic and chemical materials often do more harm than good in the long run to one’s health and well-being. For some it is psychological and they develop an aversion to synthetic products, for others it is a conscious choice to move towards clean and natural substances, and for some others it is a new trend to try something novel and exciting. As individuals tend to focus on improving their lifestyles, they tend to lean towards ingredients that have nurturing properties and demand greater transparency in the products they purchase. Year on year, the consumer market for natural and ethical products has been steadily rising. This phenomenon is observed across consumer goods, be it food and beverages, personal care, cosmetics, apparel, home goods, etc.
How can we consume consciously?
To keep our homes clean and hygienic, we can use an array of cleaning products and disinfectants, selecting products that are natural or organic. It is a sustainable solution as it is safe for the environment and for people. Choosing natural personal care products for ourselves and our pets also goes a long way in ensuring good health and safety. It is a known fact that many natural ingredients have healing properties and can even boost immunity. Adopting a BPA-free lifestyle may be a necessary step to move towards making a positive choice. BPA, Bisphenol A is a chemical compound which is used in the making of plastic products such as baby bottles, plastic plates and cutlery, storage containers and bottles, etc. Switching to glass, paper or metal cutlery and storage containers at work and at home is hugely beneficial as it prevents us from ingesting microplastics and carcinogens. We can also choose natural fibers such as cotton, silk, wool, linen and jute over synthetic fibers such as polyester, nylon and rayon when purchasing textiles and fabrics for personal clothing, bedding linen, upholsteries, etc.
How can we reduce our waste output?
Another aspect of consumerism that is of great concern is waste management. The more we consume, the more waste we generate. We have to make the ‘best out of waste’, the 5 R’s of waste management (refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and then recycle) are a great starting point for individuals, households, businesses and policy makers. Upcycling is another effective way to combat the waste problem. Upcycle is to take something and make it better, it is the process of enhancing a product. Converting old ladders to book shelves; old tires to table stands; baskets to lamp shades, are some of the few ways old products can be upcycled. The ‘up’ in upcycling means that the product has moved up the chain into something that is better1.
A conscious consumer is someone who knows their choices, empowers themselves to seek answers, and lets their wallet speak for their ethos2. Overall, reducing our exposure to chemicals is safer for us and better for the environment.
2 School of Natural Skincare: https://www.schoolofnaturalskincare.com/formulating-skincare-for-conscious-consumer/