7 ways to be a conscious consumer

With every dollar we spend, we’re making a choice. Here’s how to make sure your money is going to companies that deserve your hard-earned coin and align with your values.

Conscious consumerism — sometimes called ethical consumerism or conscientious consumerism — is shopping in ways that make a positive social, environmental or economic impact. From the food we eat to the clothes we wear, every spending choice we make has an impact the world in which we live.

Making conscious purchasing decisions is not always easy, especially with ‘green-washing’ practices, for example, where companies claim to be more eco-friendly or sustainable than they actually are. Here are some simple guidelines to make it easier to be a conscious consumer.

1 - Buy local
Shopping at your local farmers markets is a win-win – you’re helping support small businesses, food is generally very fresh and seasonal, it’s locally grown and sourced and comes with eco-friendly and/or minimal packaging. Better still, take your own containers and bags with you to stash all your produce.

Man shopping at local farmers market

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2 - Choose your bank wisely
You may be investing in companies that don’t align with your values or beliefs without even knowing it. Check that your bank, share portfolio and pension fund are supporting positive social and environmental impact. If not, switch. Same goes for your energy suppliers.

3 - Embrace minimalism
Conscious consumerism isn’t just about what we buy, it’s about how much we buy. So before purchasing something, consider if you can ‘mend or make do’ with what you have, borrow from a friend or buy second-hand.

Various tools to repair household items

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4 - Avoid choosing items just because they’re cheap
We get it, money can be tight and everyone needs to work to their own budget. But the price outlaid on, say, beeswax wraps or safety razors, will save you hundreds of dollars over a lifetime when compared with plastic wrap and disposable razors, not to mention the benefits to the environment.

5 - Travel locally
With the COVID-19 pandemic, travel is pretty limited for most of us, so why not travel locally? Stay in eco-friendly resorts or hotels and consider travelling by train instead of driving or flying.

Family overlooking a beautiful lake

Natalia Deriabina via Shutterstock

6 - Ban palm oil products from your trolley
Don’t buy anything made with palm oil. Deforestation for plantations, particularly in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, accounts for 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, as well as destroying natural animal habitats.

7 - Buy in bulk
Purchasing items in bulk is not only cheaper but cuts down drastically on packaging. If you buy toilet paper in bulk, such as our 36-roll packs of tree free toilet paper, it will last for around two months for a household of four. Plus it comes in just one large box which can be recycled and reused.

Pure Planet Club Marine Range Toilet Paper