The new approach to how we spend our money these days involves concern about how our spending habits affect the world. Conscious consumption is a social movement based on increasing awareness of the impact of purchasing decisions at an environmental, social and economic level. It is also a way for consumers to reduce their vulnerability to the effects of media and advertising.
Humans consume more than twice what they did 50 years ago.
And this does not indicate that more
needs are being met, on the contrary, the distribution of wealth in the world is increasingly
In the last decades we have been witnessing an explosion in consumption levels in the most developed countries, resulting in the increasing degradation of the planet's environmental status, namely through the depletion of natural resources, soil, water and air pollution, loss of biodiversity, global warming, among other consequences.
It is very easy to accumulate things, even with little money. What is little questioned is the usefulness and necessity that exists in acquiring these things.
Acquiring luxuries is cheaper than acquiring basic necessities.
The sale of more sustainable products and the demand for alternative stores to the large supermarkets has been increasing. This shows that consumers are more aware of what they consume and how they spend their money. This is because the consumer plays a fundamental role in the way capitalism works, at a glance we can say that capitalism controls our behaviors, such as the shopping routine or considering a shopping center a pedestrian zone and there you can buy any “thing”. But in fact, if we take a closer look, we realize that the choices each of us makes have immense power.
When we choose to give, or not give, our money for a certain product, we are signaling to the brand whether or not we want that product to continue to exist. Because no brand will continue the mass production of a product with little demand. Therefore, our money can serve as a vote for sustainability if we choose products manufactured with greater awareness and/or brands with responsible ethical values.
As we increase our education about conscious consumption, we realize that the cheapest prices are rarely fair. Many of us financially support brands and companies that do not necessarily live up to our social, ethical and philosophical ideals.
The current culture of consumerism, based on stimulating the desire for consumption, on valuing what is new and on the thoughtless disposal of used goods, exerts increasing pressure on the planet. We must learn to reduce our vulnerability to consumption. Understanding what awakens in us the desire to have a certain product, and this can be an extremely personal issue, since we are all different, with different tastes and different lifestyles. In fact, most of the products we use daily have a significant environmental impact, either due to the materials and energy needed to produce them, or the waste generated during their production and when they become obsolete.
Consuming sustainably means consuming less and better, being aware of the environmental impact that each purchase decision can have. From cutting red meat consumption to clothing upcycling, conscious consumption is on the rise and is having many implications in various market sectors. The person who makes the biggest difference is the one who takes small conscious actions. And fortunately, there is an increasing supply of consciously produced products. The most sustainable product is the one we already have.
So rule number 1 is to stop buying
But of course we have to continue to acquire essential goods and, of course, some luxuries that make sense for our lifestyle and that contribute to our identity.
What to do on a daily basis?
When making a purchase, we ask ourselves:
IS THIS PRODUCT PRODUCED ACCORDING TO MY VALUES?
AM I SUPPORTING THE LOCAL ECONOMY?
ARE THE PEOPLE WHO PRODUCE THIS PRODUCT
ARE THEY TREATED AND PAID FAIRLY?
THIS PRODUCT IS MADE FOR LAST?
To answer these questions, we have a few possibilities, to know the brands we support and to be aware of their work policies, the materials used and the way they are produced, etc. Or we can rely on certificates, which are not completely reliable, but are part of the little information we can collect, so they are recommended.
Other ways to become
more conscious consumers:
- Plan purchases and budget for different areas of needs.
- Try minimalism. Starting with areas that are not given much value.
- Buy second hand.
- Consuming local products, organic, seasonal, unpacked.
- Buy quality.
- Do not buy counterfeit products.
- Get to know the brands where we consume the most.
- Learn to reuse.
- Knowing our ecological footprint.
What it is and how to apply it in everyday life.
By Filipa Sousa | 14ºC