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Conscious Consumerism: Why We Should Care About What We Buy

by Meredith Morris

Financial Frequency. myEducation

November 21, 2019 . 3 min read

As we grow more aware of social and environmental problems, we’re paying more attention to what we purchase and where we spend our money. One study showed that 87% of Americans  said they would buy from a company because it advocated for an issue they cared about.

Additionally, 60% of respondents said in an Accenture Strategy survey that they favored  businesses that try to reduce plastics and improve the environment, while the same percentage said they supported businesses that treat their employees well and are transparent about their practices.

Conscious consumerism, a relatively new term, has quickly become a powerful force in the American economy.

But what does it mean to be a  conscious consumer? How can you be sure that the purchases you make might also make the world a better place?

The first step is being clear about your values. What are your priorities? How do you feel about the challenges facing us all? 

You also must recognize that your shopping habits can have a positive impact on changes you’d like to see. Being a conscious consumer typically involves a few basics, including choosing companies that embrace high ethical standards and promote diversity as well as shopping at second-hand stores or purchasing products made from recycled materials as a way to help minimize waste. 

Many people prioritize producers who treat animals humanely and don’t exploit their workers or engage in human rights violations.

There’s also an effort to identify, and avoid, anything that could hurt the environment. Products made from natural ingredients or materials have become popular.    

Why You Should Care About What You Buy

You now understand what it means to be a conscious consumer, but you may be wondering, “What’s the use?” Why is it so important to be a conscious consumer and why should we care about what we buy? Let’s take a look at some of the differences we can make through responsible shopping choices:

  • Minimizing Waste – It takes a lot of resources (fuel, water, power, etc.) to produce new materials, not to mention how discarded materials take up plenty of space in landfills. Shopping secondhand or buying products made from recycled material can help minimize waste and reduce our carbon footprint.
  • Caring for the Environment – By supporting eco-conscious practices, we help care for the environment. This could include using organically-grown materials, recycled materials, biodegradable materials, and more. We help ensure that our choices have minimal harmful impact on the environment.
  •  Ending Unethical Business Practices – The more we support ethical businesses, the more we can change how other businesses function. When we stop buying from companies that use sketchy practices like animal testing, child labor, worker exploitation, etc., we can eventually force them to adopt more ethical practices.
  • Helping Ethical Businesses Thrive – Conscious consumerism puts money in the pockets of ethical businesses. Not only does this help them fulfill their commitment towards environment and social responsibility, it could also compel other companies to follow suit.

Aside from these notable benefits, conscious consumerism helps us make choices that support our values and emotions. It’s one of the best ways to stay true to ourselves and stand up for causes that are close to our hearts.

Examples of Businesses to Support for the Conscious Consumer

With the rise in conscious consumerism, we’re also seeing more and more businesses that are adopting more responsible practices. While existing brands and businesses are making policy changes, we’re also seeing a bunch of new companies whose core values align with those of the conscious consumer.

Some examples of businesses that you should support as a conscious consumer are:

  • People Tree Ltd., founded by social entrepreneur Safia Minney, is a pioneer in fair trade fashion and boasts of truly conscious clothing collections for women using environmentally-friendly materials.
  • The brand is committed to following fair trade principles, which include fair wages, gender equality, good working conditions, transparency, and environmental best practices.
  • You can also shop secondhand clothes online through companies like thredUP. The company sells used clothing in like-new condition at pocket-friendly prices.
  • Fenty Beauty, founded by the fierce and talented artist Rihanna, has made notable efforts to support diversity and adopt ethical and responsible business practices. For instance, the beauty brand has an inclusive foundation range consisting of 50 shades to suit people of all skin colors.

It also takes care to work with suppliers that do not engage in human trafficking, forced/involuntary labor, child labor, and harassment and abuse.

The Big Impact of a Small Contribution

You may think that the impact of your purchase is too small to make a difference. But look at it as a small but critical contribution towards a larger impact. Without your contribution, we couldn’t possibly achieve our end goal.

While one person’s contribution on its own may not be enough to change the world, millions of people making the same amount of contribution can definitely make a difference. So it’s time that we, as strong and socially responsible women, take a stand for the causes we support by making conscious buying decisions.