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how to be a more conscious consumer

how to be a more conscious consumer

Written by Local Time

Becoming a more conscious consumer means learning to integrate curiosity into your purchasing practices at multiple levels. Here’s how to do it.

 

If we begin each purchasing decision with curiosity, we can embed our values into our demands, which has the power to influence what gets made, and why. Embodying curiosity allows us to wade through the grey waters of the unknown – and now, more than ever, we need tools that help us navigate these territories.

The urgency is real: our global economic systems of production, consumption and waste are fundamentally broken.

The majority of companies around the world lack the basic transparency throughout their supply chains that is needed in order to truly understand the social and environmental impacts of the products they make and sell. Without this understanding, they are missing a huge opportunity to direct their business strategy in a way that positively influences the environment, and local communities.

As companies, we are missing out on the possibility of actually using business as a force for good.

 

Likewise, most consumers lack a basic awareness of where the things they buy come from, in what condition products were made, and where items end up when they’re thrown “away.” This disassociation by design creates a consumer market that is easily flooded with products manufactured without any accountability or concern for human or environmental cost.

 

As consumers, we are giving up the opportunity to direct our hard-earned money toward companies and initiatives that share our values.

 

So, what is the most powerful catalyst for change? What quality is the missing ingredient most lacking among both consumers and companies?

I think it’s curiosity.

I’ve spent more than a decade working with companies across the world to build transparent and responsible supply chains. In this time, I’ve witnessed firsthand the power of integrating curiosity into purchasing practices – from the perspectives of company and customer.

Curiosity is a quality that can bring even the most mundane to life. It invites a childlike sense of wonder and possibility that is not motivated by judgment, fear, assumption or competition; instead, it is driven by the simple desire to know and understand. From this place, we can inspire behavior change that’s better for ourselves, and the planet at large.

We all consume no matter what role we are playing – shopper, employee, business owner, citizen. That means we have an opportunity to take action if we direct our attention to intention in all areas of our lives. Here’s how to add a little curiosity to our buying practices by habitually asking questions each time you pull out cash or credit.

Ask yourself…

Before You Buy:

    • Do I know what materials this is made of?
    • Do I know where these materials come from?
    • Why do I need this?

After You Buy:

    • How can I make this item last longer?
    • How does this item make my life better?
    • What memories have I made with this item? (Activate appreciation!)

Before You Dispose:

    • What other purpose can it serve?
    • Who else can use this?
    • Where will this go if I throw it “away”?

 

Ask the Brands and Retailers…

(via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or in-person at the store)

Before You Buy: 

    • What materials are in this item?
    • Where do these materials come from?
    • What efforts to do you take to evaluate the working conditions and environmental impact of the production of this item?

After You Buy:

    • How can I make this item last as long as possible?
    • How can I repair this item?

Before You Dispose:

    • Does the brand have a take-back recycling program?
    • Can any of the materials of this item be recycled or up-cycled?
    • How can I keep this item out of a landfill?

 

Ask your company…

This conversation doesn’t belong outside of the companies that make the things we buy – as employees and business owners we can also have a positive impact by bringing more curiosity into the workplace. If your company, or the company you work for, makes, buys and/or sells anything at all, you too can inspire an evolutionary conversation.

Ask internally:

  • Where are our products made?
  • What do we know about the working conditions of the people who make our products? What don’t we know?
  • Will our product eventually end up in a landfill?
  • Can we offer our customers a way to recycle or up-cycle our product when they no longer want/need it?

In our fast-paced lives where convenience is often valued over consciousness, making decisions from a place of sincere curiosity and awareness is the definition of simple, but not easy. But it’s also a small act toward big change that allows you to cast curious ripples that can turn the tide.

 

 

Written by Greta Matos