Every single thing we do in life has an impact, not just on us, but also on other people and the world as a whole… even if it doesn’t seem like that at first.
Because of the “unintended impact”, a new type of consumer was born, the conscious consumer.
This is a type of consumer that thinks about the real impact of every purchase they make. Although conscious consumerism requires a lot of effort, there are amazing and powerful benefits.
by Greg McKeown
⏱ 13 minutes reading time
🎧 Audio version available
This is the biggest benefit that started the whole movement towards conscious consumerism. The unintended impact on the environment stemming from every single purchase we make, has become far too great to ignore. Unconscious consumerism is run by a free market system. Whatever the people’s needs are, determine what, and how much, will be made.
The only thing that matters is getting the product to the consumer, no matter how badly it’s managed. During the manufacturing process, harmful gases and waste products are unlawfully disposed of. And after the product has been used, it stays around, because plastics never truly break down all the way. When you’re buying consciously, all of that goes out the window!
Ethically produced products are made in a way that has minimal impact on the environment. No negative impact on anyone, or anything while it was being made, or once it has been used!
Regular goods, such as fast-fashion clothing, are made quickly, and to serve their purpose as quickly as possible. Once the purpose has been served, they are thrown away, which impacts the environment. When you’re buying consciously and ethically, you’re not buying short-term use products.
The products that you end up buying will be much better overall quality, and will last much longer, if not forever! So, even if you’re paying a slightly higher price, you’re paying it for something that will last you at least a couple of years!
Promotes fair trade
As important as it is to make sure that the money you’re spending doesn’t contribute to environmental waste, it’s equally important to think about the people that are affected while the products are being produced.
When you buy free market goods, the companies producing those goods compete on a higher level with each other. This means that they have to cut as many costs as they can. To do that, they end up underpaying employees, making them work in sweatshops, testing on animals, and employing child labor. These are social costs that you incur every time you make a purchase.
Your purchases fuel the system. When you choose to buy only from ethical companies, you take part in a system where it’s important that everyone involved in the process of that product gets fairly treated and properly paid. Even though this comes at an increased price, it ends up changing the lives of everyone along the way!
A report called Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017 by Boston Consulting Group, revealed just how much impact this can make. Just a 5% increase in retail prices could double the amount that workers make! For us, at the consumer end, it barely makes a difference. But on the end of the worker, it could change lives!
Promotes gender equality
When you buy from ethical companies, they adhere to fair trade policies. These policies don’t just make sure that everyone and everything in the way of production is treated well, but they also have a spin-off benefit: gender equality.
Ethical shopping actually promotes gender equality worldwide! 70% of the entire garment workforce is female. The number is the same when it comes to the poorest people in the world. This means when a company switches over to fair trade policies, the women that were otherwise working on very minimal wages and in horrible conditions, will have the ability to not only work comfortably, in stable and safe workplaces, but they will also be fairly compensated for their efforts.
Better for your budget
We’ve all done a little retail therapy here and there. However, impulse buying also means that you end up wasting a lot of money buying random stuff you don’t necessarily need. Since there’s not a lot of thinking involved in the process, you might find that you’ve overspent even if you didn’t mean to!
Conscious consumers spend more time researching the companies and products they’re interested in. Even if the individual product is priced slightly higher than a non-ethical brand, it ends up being of a higher quality, which means it will last much longer, which means you end up spending less.
Could even be cheaper
One of the main arguments people have against buying ethically produced goods is that the products are priced higher. This is to make sure there’s minimal environmental and social impact. Also, that’s not the only way to buy ethically. A popular alternative to buying products directly from a company is to buy them second-hand!
When you’re buying goods second-hand, they’re usually priced lower, and since you’re not buying directly from a company, you’re not really contributing to the impact on your own, instead, you’re keeping those goods out of landfills! So, in the end, it ends up being better for your budget to buy ethically instead, you just have to spend a little extra time and effort finding what you need!
Finding the right items to buy is a process that takes time, but that also comes with its own advantages. When you take your time making the right decision, you eliminate the habit of buying things in a rush. This means the “panic buying” goes away too!
The more time you take to research what you’re spending on and the impact that product has on the world, the more you’ll find yourself feeling relaxed through the process of buying. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting, and what it took for the product to get to the shelves!
Each purchase is celebrated
Most of the time, conscious consumerism involves a degree of minimalism. The minimalism isn’t strictly necessary, but when you’re thinking about every single purchase you make, you automatically end up buying less, and buying better instead.
When this happens, you get to a point where each purchase you make, will be celebrated and you’ll cherish it all the more! It instils the “value” of purchases, and makes each one special! Which makes everything feel that much better!
Better for your conscious
Finally, with all the positive impact you can make with buying from the right places, that do the right thing, you’ll know that you’ve done right by the world. Instead of being party to destroying the world and the lives of everyone involved, you’re making the opposite impact!
Knowing that you’re making a difference in people’s lives, and saving the planet, while still buying things and getting things done, is better for your conscience too! Which makes all the effort well worth it!
Which of these benefits do you think makes conscious consumerism worth it? Let us know in the comments below!
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