It’s no secret that our environment is changing. There’s a hole in the ozone layer, glaciers are melting, and CO2 output is exponentially increasing. One person alone is not going to be able to save the planet, but we can’t assume that other people are going to be the ones to change. Individual efforts create big change, and starting with something as frequent as consumer behavior can show tangible results immediately.
Improving the way we shop, from clothes to groceries to cosmetics, may seem like a huge task, but thinking about it on a purchase-by-purchase basis breaks a large project down into little decisions. This can range from not buying as many products to making sure you support companies who are ethically-minded.
In a world as big as ours is and with a problem as large as climate change, it can feel daunting to reverse the effects humans have had on the planet. Many times, people get overwhelmed at the thought of climate change and typically do not know what to do in order to help.
It is common for people to feel like the problem is so big that there is nothing they can do to change it or make it better. Fortunately, this is not the case, and can easily be resolved by learning about alternative actions.
The best thing you can do in order to be a conscious consumer is to educate yourself. Through education you are able to learn what problems we specifically are facing and better understand the impact of your actions.
When you understand a problem it typically makes it less scary. Looking at climate change as a problem with a solution rather than an insurmountable issue comes with becoming more informed.
Not only should you be taking the time to educate yourself on the climate issues themselves, but you should take the time to educate yourself on the products that you use regularly and their impact on the environment.
Reducing consumption and waste is a big part of being a conscious consumer. It does not mean that you have to totally reduce all of your consumption, since that would be unrealistic for many people. What you can do is find ways to scale back what you think you need.
For example, a great way to reduce needless waste is to donate old clothes (or even consign them to make extra cash) and buy preowned items. Just because something is not brand new doesn’t mean that the item is useless to you! Also, choosing to purchase things that can be resold, like sturdier furniture, might come with a higher cost upfront, but you can easily recoup some of your investment if you sell it. Another way is to switch to reusuable straws instead to disposal plastic straws.
Think Before You Buy
Be aware of what you are consuming. Taking the time to think before you shop and creating a list is not only a way to save you time shopping, but it limits unnecessary purchases that might seem like a good idea in the moment. It doesn’t mean that you can’t treat yourself to something nice, but it does mean that you purchase things in a mindful way.
Buying second hand or thrifted clothing is a great way to be able to get new clothes without contributing to the fast fashion industry. There is a growing problem with fast fashion because of the low cost, with the fashion industry as one of the top contributors to pollution. Try to support brands that use sustainable materials, like hemp or bamboo fabric.
Being Smart About Your Consumption
While you may not be able to single-handedly change the state of our environment, you can try to not make the problems worse. Through research, education, and awareness you can make sure you are supporting brands that are ethical and responsible when it comes to our environment.
Talking with your friends and family is also a great way to help. Share with them what you have learned about consumerism and share your tips with them on how to become a more conscious consumer. Our environmental problems are big, but together we can make a difference that starts at home with the items we consume.
Salman Zafar is an ecopreneur, consultant, advisor, speaker and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection, conservation and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe. Salman is the Founder of EcoMENA, a popular voluntary organization based in Qatar. He is also the Founder and CEO of BioEnergy Consult, a reputed consulting firm active in biomass, waste-to-energy and waste management segments.
Salman is a professional environmental writer with more than 350 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass environmental awareness in different parts of the world.
Salman Zafar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com