You’ve probably heard the term many times throughout the years, but do you truly understand what it means to be an eco-conscious consumer? Eco-conscious consumers are those individuals who show concern for the environment in their purchasing practices. Do you make a concerted effort to avoid excess packaging? Do you buy in bulk and end up wasting much of what you buy, or do you only buy what you need and then save the rest for later? Do you know where the products you want to buy are made? Do you know whether the company you are buying from actively engages in eco-friendly practices? Each of these, and much more, is what makes up an eco-conscious consumer.
Buy Less (Reduce)
Reducing your consumption, aka buying less, is one of the most basic ways to be an eco-conscious consumer. We don’t always need to have more and more stuff. When we put what we have to good use, it will have less of an impact on the environment than if we continuously make purchases. Manufacturing is not exactly one of the most environmentally-friendly processes….so, buying less can be good for your wallet, the environment and you.
Make Your Purchases from Socially Responsible Companies
Socially responsible companies are more focused on the impact their products have on the environment and society, than on the profits they stand to make. These types of companies often make organic products, use locally-grown materials, would rather use natural ingredients, are eco-friendly and non-toxic. Energy-efficiency is important, as is minimizing the harmful impact of manufacturing. Fair-trade is quite common, however be sure to avoid green-washing and unwarranted hype.
Avoid Products Harmful to the Environment
If you know a product can be potentially harmful to the environment, avoid it. One simple example of this is plastic water bottles and plastic bags. Plastic is not always recycled, and much of it ends up polluting our streets and oceans. In fact, here’s how much plastic ends up in the world’s oceans. Cleaning supplies filled with chemicals and toxins should be avoided, as should cosmetics with microbeads. Being aware of what’s in the products you buy can help you avoid making purchases harmful to your and/or the environment.
Opt for Green or Minimal Packaging
Many stores now give the consumers the option of “packaging” their food items in their own containers brought from home. This minimizes packaging along every step of the process. Green packaging, such as that made of biodegradable materials, can also be found. Some companies are even finding ways to minimize the amount of packaging used on its products. Search for these companies and products, it’s less waste generated.
Choose Reusable Over Single-Use Items
Choosing reusable over single-use items is another very simple way to be an eco-conscious consumer. Even though single-use may give the appearance of being more desirable, why do we need items individually-packaged each in its own plastic or cardboard wrappers? We don’t! We don’t need to throw away utensils after one use. Get reusable items you can wash when done and use again later. Wouldn’t that make more sense to do anyway? Yes, it sure does. Simply put…single-use items are wasteful.
Care For Your Existing Belongings (Reuse and Repurpose)
Last, but not least, care for your existing belongings. Taking care of what you already have will make it last longer and require you to consume less. Try reusing what you have or repurposing it for other purposes (old t-shirts for cleaning cloths, jeans into shorts or bags, boxes into planters and more). Just look at all of these cool reuse, recycle and repurpose ideas on Pinterest. Pretty much everything you own can be given a second life if you just use a little creativity.
It doesn’t take much to become a more eco-conscious consumer, but it is a worthwhile action. We’d love to hear what other ideas you have for being an eco-conscious consumer.